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  • Walmart workers demanded better wages and reliable and stable working hours

    Walmart workers demanded better wages and reliable and stable working hours | Photo: @forrespect

Published 18 February 2020
Opinion

The protest was in part a response to the so-called 'Great Workplace' company restructuring initiative that Walmart began testing last year.

Walmart workers staged a strike Tuesday demanding better wages, reliable and stable working hours, outside the building where Alice Walton, the heiress to the retailer's US$500 billion fortune, resides in New York.

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The protest was in part a response to the so-called 'Great Workplace' company restructuring initiative that Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by 2020.

According to the Washington Post, the initiative would result in large staff cuts as it seeks to consolidate the responsibilities of several workers into one position, with hourly pay remaining the same or even dropping in some cases.

United for Respect organizers led dozens of workers to sing, "People with more profit!" and "Hey hey! Ho-ho! Corporate greed has to go" as they gathered at Walton's penthouse.

"Associates are concerned that Walmart is using the 'Great WorkPlace' to cut costs by reducing overall staffing and the overall number of mid-level store managers," United for Respect said in a news release.

"We are here to stand up to the billionaires who are destroying our economy and our democracy," said Melissa Love, a United for Respect member and Walmart associate who attended the protest.

"Now with the opening of 'Great Workplace', we see Walmart quietly eliminating more full-time jobs. It's time for the Waltons and Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon to stop hoarding the company's profits to enrich themselves through share buybacks," she added.

United for Respect has been campaigning for the rights of Walmart workers since 2011 when the group created a Declaration of Respect that requires the nation's largest private employer, and the largest employer of black and Hispanic workers, to raise its minimum wage to US$15 per hour.

The statement also calls on Walmart to provide its employees with consistent and stable work schedules and to take other steps to ensure that employees' interests are represented.

With the help of the organizers, the organization says Walmart workers have successfully lobbied the company to raise the minimum wage from US$7.25 to US$11 an hour and to adopt safety and accommodation policies for pregnant employees.

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