By Liana Foxvog, National Organizer, SweatFree Communities
Last Friday, I posted several times on Walmart's facebook wall; each time Walmart deleted my note within 5 minutes. However, soon after change.org posted this story, and many more people expressed their concerns on the wall about human rights in Walmart's Bangladesh supply chain, Walmart stopped censoring.
Allowing public debate on their facebook wall is an improvement, but Walmart continues to avoid responding directly to the points their customers raise. See for example this exchange:
David Finch: Walmart please tell your your Bangladeshi suppliers to drop all falsified criminal charges against labor rights leaders. Please take responsibility it nice that you looked at the problem in 2010 but what are you doing today about it today why did you stop answering questions? Are you too ashamed to answer?
Walmart: Hi David - Thanks for sharing your concern. Walmart's sourcing decisions reflect our values and demonstrate respect for workers throughout the supply chain including those in Bangladesh. This is why in 2010, Walmart joined other leading brands and retailers in encouraging the Bangladesh Government to review the minimum wages for workers in the garment industry to ensure worker needs are met as well as a built-in mechanism for a yearly review of the minimum wages. For information on our Supplier Standards see http://tinyurl.com/WalmartEthicalSourcing.
David Finch: That's nice but what are doing about the three labor leaders in jail?
Shannon Singer: it's a canned answer, they don't give a sh!T
Susan Rankin: If Walmart has SUCH a good relationship with the Bangladeshian Government then use it to get all charges against the labor leaders dropped. Otherwise, we will boycott Walmart. Thanks for your great humanitarian concern Walmart.
Liana Foxvog: Right, so the Bangladeshi minimum wage was updated in Nov 2010 to try to keep up with the pace of inflation in Bangladesh, but it's still far less than what a living wage would be and what the falsely accused labor leaders were encouraging through peaceful and legal advocacy. The fact that Walmart wasn't willing to support a decent wage level helped result in a smaller wage increase than what may have otherwise been possible. The wage level in Bangladesh barely covers the cost of food for one person, much less for a family. Check the report at http://www.sweatfree.org/bcws for detailed reporting on the wage and nutrition info.
While Walmart now appears to be somewhat responsive, the company is not engaging in dialogue as it isn't discussing any further than pasting in its Supplier Standards paragraph dozens of times.
On the occasion that Walmart does respond directly, they appear to lack accurate information. On May 18, Megan Murphy, Walmart's International Corporate Affairs Manager, told Change.org: "Following the reports of labor rights issues in Bangladesh, our Ethical Sourcing team communicated with representatives of the Nassa Group to discuss the BCWS situation and we understand that the Nassa Group has dismissed all charges against the BCWS and the 54 involved Nassa employees."
However, the falsely accused leaders of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity report differently. They continue to be required to show up regularly in court. The falsified criminal charges that they face have not actually been dismissed.