Wal-Mart faces workers' strike

Last Updated 17 November 2012, 15:55 IST

Disgruntled Wal-Mart workers are mounting strikes and protests over poor pay and mistreatment at the world’s largest retailer, threatening the coming Black Friday peak shopping day.

Wal-Mart store and warehouse workers began walking off the job in California and Washington state, to protest the company’s efforts to silence workers seeking better pay and benefits, workers group said.

Protests will hit 1,000 Wal-Mart stores leading up to and on Black Friday, November 23, the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (OUR Wal-Mart) said.

The campaign will hit cities from Chicago and Los Angeles to Dallas and Miami, and include rallies, flash mobs and online actions “to inform customers about the illegal actions that Wal-Mart has been taking against its employees.”

The labour action comes after Wal-Mart Stores announced last week it would move up its Black Friday sales to Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, one of Americans’ most cherished and family-focused holidays. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the traditional kickoff to the year-end holiday shopping season and is considered crucial for retailers’ annual earnings.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores Inc is taking legal steps to stop months of protests and rallies outside Wal-Mart stores, targeting the union that it says is behind such actions.

Wal-Mart filed an unfair labour practice charge against the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.

The union is undeterred. “Wal-Mart is grasping at straws,” said UFCW Communications Director Jill Cashen. “There's nothing in the law that gives an employer the right to silence workers and citizens.”

Wal-Mart said it intends for UFCW to be held accountable for any injury or property damage that may occur as a result of the actions led by the union, OUR Wal-Mart or any of its other affiliates. Wal-Mart has 1.4 million US workers.

(Published 17 November 2012, 15:55 IST)

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