On October 4, the first ever strikes at Wal-Mart occured, as walkouts and marches were supported by 88 workers in 28 stores, in over a dozen states across the US.
While there are differing reasons for individual strike actions, such as anger at low wages and anti-union tactics, the most prevalent reason surrounds the multinational’s notorious silencing and retaliation against workers who speak out about improvements within the job.
While the store has dismissed the protests as little more than “union publicity stunts,” the walkouts are clearly a sign that something is increasingly wrong within the brick-inlayed walls of your local Wal-Mart, and these workers should be supported just as all minimum wage workers should be supported.
The opportunity could come on the Friday after US Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” the biggest retail sales day of the year. Wal-Mart workers and supporters are planning boycotts, flash mobs and information pickets at stores.
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the world, and the wealth of the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc, is almost as much as the poorest half of Americans combined. The Walton’s fortune ($89.5 billion as of 2010) is equal to the net worth of 41.5 per cent of American families on the other end of the income inequality stick.
The average Wal-Mart worker gets less than $11 per hour and works just 32 hours a week. An estimated 80 per cent of those workers rely on food stamps or some form of government assistance to subsist, and like other low income jobs are disproportionately women and people of colour. You can see just why Wal-Mart’s low prices come at such a high cost.