Brazil: First Ever Strike against Walmart

Source: UNI Global Union

On Friday, January 25, local unions have organized a Walmart store strike in Limeira, a town about two hours drive from Sao Paolo on the motorway and set up a picket line outside the store which forced the company to remain shut from 6am to 12pm. According to the unions this was the first Walmart store strike in Brazil.

The workers have been protesting against widespread exploitation and low wages, which they say are not enough to make both ends meet. In flagrant non-compliance with Brazilian labour law, workers are obliged to work overtime, offered no compensation, no pay increase, and most worryingly, they also lack protective health and safety equipment.

The president of the Retail Workers’ Federation of Sao Paulo (Forca Sindical), Luiz Carlos Motta, warned that the “strikes would extend to other cities if Walmart didn’t comply with Brazilian labor legislation.”

Luiz Hamilton from UGT and Sao Paulo Retail Workers Union said that it was inadmissible that there were so many labor non-compliance issues at Walmart. “We are mobilizing to stop this permanent exploitation of workers,” said Hamilton.

As Alke Boessiger, Head of Department of UNI Commerce, puts it, “ the outcry against Walmart in Brazil comes with no surprise as the company continues with its global labor malpractices, including low wages, excessive overtime work, scrapping intricate bonus or promotion schemes and introducing unplanned mandatory tasks, leaving workers in a desperate situation. UNI global Union has repeatedly ask Walmart for sweeping reforms to curb the dire working conditions imposed on its workers worldwide but Walmart refutes all these allegations and refuses to initiate a meaningful dialogue with us.”