It took nearly 30 years for Wal-Mart to become an international company, but its first store outside of the United States was a Sam’s Club near Mexico City in 1991. Today, the giant retailer has more than 889 stores in Mexico. This Sunday, December 2nd, Wal-Mart employees in Mexico will hold “A Day Without Wal-Mart,” which will include a full-page advertisement against Wal-Mart in La Jornada newspaper, and a large demonstration at 11 AM Sunday outside the first Wal-Mart ever opened in Mexico, which is at the Coyoacan Plaza Universidad neighborhood of Mexico City. The workers are asking all Mexicans not to shop or eat at Wal-Mart, Superama, VIP’s, Suburbia and Bodega Aurerr?? this Sunday. The workers have formed the Organization of Wal-Mart Workers of Mexico, and their effort is being supported by CILAS (the Center for Labor Investigation and Union Advising), the Trolleyworkers Union, the National Front Against Wal-Mart and others. Here is the statement issued by the Wal-Mart workers: “Wal-Mart is an American transnational corporation that takes advantage of the lack of work and the poor economy of Mexico in order to generate huge profits. Although we lack unions that would legally represent workers’ rights, we decided to associate in order to improve our working conditions and to better our families’ quality of life. Here is our manifesto: As a result of unfair working conditions and the violation of national and international labor laws, violating the dignity of workers as well as society in general, we declare ourselves in direct protest against the corporation. We are no longer willing to tolerate this reality, as workers, and as part of a humane and conscious society. For this reason we demand that WAL-MART of Mexico change its attitudes as well as its working conditions to allow for a healthy and respectful relationship between the company, workers and society as a whole. In this vein we make known our list of requests for the benefit of all, as follows: I. Respect for the DIGNITY of the WORKER, totally eliminating the term “associate” from all propaganda and publicity as well as from their vocabulary. II. Recognition and not opposition to the organization WORKERS OF WAL-MART MEXICO. III. The improvement and distribution of end of year bonuses for 2007 to all WAL-MART workers in all outlets in all of Mexico. IV. Respect for the position for which the worker was contracted and no assignment of additional activities, or in the event, monetary compensation for these activities. V. Substantial improvement of the salary of all WAL-MART workers in all areas in Mexico. VI. Recognition and pay for overtime. VII. Lowering of the pay withheld for personal loans. VIII. Compensation for leave in accordance with labor laws for workers who voluntarily leave the company. IX. Substantial increase in the electronic credit or so-called food stamps for all workers. X. Preferential treatment in promotions for workers with seniority and experience over new hires. XI. Absolute respect for pregnant workers, with full rights. XII. Respect for sales by salespeople benefiting the salespeople, managers and department heads. XIII. Provision of the uniform workers must use instead of forcing workers to buy this uniform. XIV. Proposal of profit-sharing mechanism for 2008 for profits generated in 2007 in all of the branches in Mexico. XV. Payment of a fair wage to all workers including baggers and parking lot workers. XVI. No mass lay-offs at WAL-MART Supercenters and other outlets for low sales. XVII. Fair pay for the merchandise and services that suppliers provide to WAL-MART Mexico in all its Mexican operations. On behalf of society in general we demand: 1. The organization of a CITIZENS COMMISSION to determine the economic, social and environmental impact of new openings of stores and restaurants throughout the country. It should be composed of academics, small businesspeople, citizens, and labor and environmental authorities. 2. A press release paid for by the company in which WAL-MART commits to: a) Respect labor rights b) Respect its fiscal obligations c)Respect environmental norms d) Respect the national market, and in general a commitment to respect the dignity of workers and the public.”
For further background on the worker unrest in Mexico, call Maria Pantoja 044-55-21-49-9739 (from Mexico) or 011-52-1-55-21-49-9739 (from the US). Or contact Ruben Garcia, Global Exchange at: [email protected]; 415-279-3174. American shoppers wanting to show support for the Mexican Wal-Mart workers should find some place to shop other than Wal-Mart this Sunday. A Day Without Wal-Mart, Is a Day Without Exploitation.