The “Walmart Economy” isn’t just hurting America – the multi-billion dollar corporation’s impact extends globally.
The Waltons, owners of Walmart, are the richest family in America, worth more than $150 billion. That’s equal to the wealth of 43% of American families combined. Yet many workers at Walmart stores, warehouses, and suppliers around the world face low pay or unacceptable working conditions. From California to Bangladesh, Mexico to South Africa, many workers at one of the wealthiest retailers in the world struggle to make ends meet.
Chilean communities have had enough. Starting Thursday, some 12,000 Walmart Chile (Lider) workers went on a nationwide strike demanding better wages. It’s reported that approximately 70 store locations are struggling to operate. In the Maipu & Concepcion comunas (or counties), all Walmart supermarkets are completely shut down.
Workers are on strike because the company has not responded to its request for salary increases. Manuel Diaz , president of the Federation of Walmart Chile, said workers are asking for a raise. Chilean Workers have also been picketing and calling on customers not to buy from the corporation’s supermarkets.
Diaz said the response from Chilean communities has been supportive, even during the busy holiday season, and that protests will continue as workers wait through the negotiation process.
In a public statement, Walmart Chile said it regrets the decision by workers to strike, and that the company is confident they will reconcile the demands of workers with what the company is able to offer.
This is not the first sign of labor unrest in Walmart stores abroad. Just this year, Walmart workers in over ten countries stood in solidarity with American Walmart workers, calling for decent pay and decent work. The “Global Day for Decent Work at Walmart” saw actions in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, Canada, Argentina, and Chile. In the past two years, Chinese Walmart workers have protested issues ranging from store closings, retaliation against workers who speak out, and cuts to worker benefits.
Last month, Walmart workers and community supporters held events or strikes in over 1600 stores across America, protesting how Walmart bullies workers that speak out about issues like fair pay.