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December 2012, Week 3

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Workers in 10 Countries Call for an End to the
Silencing of Workers at Walmart

    Walmart Worker Protests Spread Globally

Making Change at Walmart
December 14, 2012

http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/2012/12/14/workers-in-10-countries-call-for-an-end-to-the-silencing-of-workers-at-walmart/

MIAMI

US Walmart workers were joined by Walmart
workers in nine countries on Friday to call for an
end to Walmart's attempts to silence workers for
speaking out for changes at the world's largest
employer.  As Walmart workers and community
supporters marched in front of a Walmart store in
Miami, workers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
Nicaragua, Canada, the United Kingdom, South
Africa, Zambia and India held their own rallies,
marches, and other actions at Walmart and Walmart
subsidiary stores.  During the protests, workers
cited the negative impacts that the silencing is
having on their families, the economy and the
company's bottom-line.

At the protests across the globe, workers held a
moment of silence to honor the victims of the factory
fire in Bangladesh that tragically claimed the lives of
112 workers. Recent reports show that Walmart
"played a leading role in blocking an effort" to
improve electrical and fire safety systems in factories
in the country.

"Walmart must stop its attempts to silence those
who speak out.  We are standing up for what is right
for our families and the global economy," said Elaine
Rozie, an OUR Walmart member from the Hialeah
store in Miami Gardens, Fl.  Rozie is a seven-year
associate who despite works full-time at Walmart
still has to depend on public assistance to make
ends meet. "As the largest retailer in the world,
Walmart should be setting a standard for good, safe
jobs. The benefits of having steady, well-trained
workers in stores and along the supply chain will
help Walmart improve customer service ratings and
its reputation, which is good business."

"We are inspired by OUR Walmart members who are
standing up for a better future for all of our
families," said Louisa Plaatjies, a worker from South
Africa. In October, workers from seven countries -
where workers all have union representation -
launched the UNI Walmart Global Union Alliance to
fight for fairness, decent working conditions, and
the fundamental human right of freedom of
association.  "We are will continue to stand up with
our brothers and sisters in the United States until
Walmart starts listening to the workers that keep the
store running."

The global protests held today build on the ongoing
calls for change at Walmart. In November,
community members and Walmart workers held
more than 1,000 demonstrations, including strikes
in 100 cities, during the Black Friday shopping rush
in protest of the company's illegal attempts to
silence workers for speaking out about the
company's manipulation of hours and benefits,
efforts to try to keep people from working full-time
and its discrimination against women and people of
color.  The Black Friday strike wave came a little
more than a month after OUR Walmart leaders held
the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. In
just one year, OUR Walmart has grown from a group
of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of
Associates across 43 states.

"The Walmart workers may come from different
cultures and continents but they are united in their
opposition to Walmart's cynical and systematic
squeezing of its employees to maximize profit, be it
the US dollar, the South African rand, the Indian
rupee, the Argentine peso or any other currency,"
said the International UNI Global Union General
Secretary, Philip Jennings. "Walmart has gone too
far. US Walmart workers have had enough and they
are fighting back as we saw on Black Friday and
every day since. The Alliance is standing with them
not just in solidarity but in strength and in action."

Workers like Jesus Vargas, who have been illegally
fired, targeted by management or other retaliation
for speaking out, are also raising their voices.  More
than 30 federal charges against Walmart have
already been filed, with another 60 allegations
against Walmart's illegal threats currently under
investigation.

"Walmart, we will not be silenced," Vargas said.
Vargas, who was unjustly fired for speaking out at
his store in California, has filed a federal charge
against Walmart. "We are coming together to be
heard and to create good jobs that workers in
America and across the globe need."

With so many Americans struggling to make ends
meet and Walmart taking in $16 billion in profits
and compensating its executives $10 million each,
workers and community leaders have been calling
on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address
the wage gap the company is creating.  At the same
time frontline Walmart workers are facing financial
hardships, the Walton Family - heirs to the Walmart
fortune - are the richest family in the country with
more wealth than the bottom 42% of American
families combined.

Workers' concerns about wages and staffing have
been affirmed by newly uncovered company pay-
plans exposed by the Huffington Post, recent poor
sales reports and a new study on wage trends in the
retail industry. Huffington Post uncovered what
reporters call "a rigid pay structure for hourly
employees that makes it difficult for most to rise
much beyond poverty-level wages."  Meanwhile, last
week's sales reports show that understaffing, which
affects workers' scheduling and take-home pay, is
also having an impact on company sales. Last
week's sales report showed that Walmart's comp
store sales are about half what competitors like
Target reported in the same quarter, continuing a
pattern of underperformance by the world's largest
retailer.

As workers and community supporters call for
changes at Walmart, a new report by the national
public policy center Demos, shows that better jobs
at Walmart and other large retailers would have an
impact on our economy. A wage floor equivalent of
$25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round
employee for retailers with more than 1000
employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and
their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to
economic growth, increase retail sales and create
more than 100,000 new jobs. The findings in the
study prove there is a flaw in the conventional
thinking by companies like Walmart that profits, low
prices, and decent wages cannot coexist.

Follow the conversation and see photos on Twitter:
#WalmartStrikers and @ForRespect and
@ChangeWalmart

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