Walmart

The retailer is continuously refusing to take responsibility for its supply chain and is undermining effective industry reform.

“[Factory] management would say: This work is for Walmart, we have to do a really beautiful job.”
Aklima, textile worker at Rana Plaza

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The Case

In 2005, Walmart received the Public Eye Jury Award in the category Labor Law for lack of respect for human and labor rights along its supply chain in places such as Lesotho, Kenya, and Thailand. Excessive compulsory overtime, wages below the subsistence level, insufficient building safety, union busting, verbal and physical abuse of workers and even sexual harassment by supervisors were found at suppliers of the world’s largest retailer.

Nominating Organisation

What Happened Since

Cases of human and labor rights violations along Walmart’s supply chain are not limited to countries such as Kenya or Thailand. They are wide-spread and occur in all industries. Through its garment suppliers, Walmart is involved in the textile industry’s biggest tragedy yet, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in which 1’138 workers were killed. Walmart failed to address building safety issues and still refuses to sign a legally binding agreement on building safety, the so-called Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Instead, the retailer is promoting a corporate-controlled sham-program which is not accountable to workers. Moreover, Walmart is also trampling on the rights of its own employees. Illegal dismissals have occurred across the US. The company was even sued for systematically shortening contract workers’ wages amounting to US$ 21 million in back pay owed.

"If everyone puts pressure on the brands, then Walmart and all the others might pay fair compensation."

− Aklima, textile worker at Rana Plaza

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Why Walmart was nominated for the Lifetime Award

There is one consistent problem concerning both Walmart’s own employees in the US and those of its suppliers in Bangladesh: The retailer is continuously refusing to take responsibility for its supply chain. Worse, the company is undermining effective industry reform and has even argued in court that it should not be held legally accountable if suppliers violate its own Standards for Suppliers. The mere existence of standards, says Walmart, does not imply the retailer is obligated to ensure the standards are actually respected. Walmart is consistently trying to avoid responsibility by putting PR before workers’ rights. The company’s low cost and low wage approach fails the very people who have contributed to Walmart’s well-being and stands in stark contrast to the retailer’s billions in profit.

Facts & Figures

  • Name: Walmart Stores, Inc.
  • Headquarters: Bentonville, USA
  • Industry: Retailer
  • Turnover 2013: US$ 469 Billion
  • Net Income 2013: US$ 16 Billion
  • Employees: 2.2 Million
  • CEO: Doug McMillon