Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) Protests – Genuine Concern or Staged Demonstration?

Although Friday, 28th November, 2014, was officially declared as Black Friday – the day that avid American shoppers look forward to, for Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) it was truly a black day in history. It marked the day when thousands of this global retail chain’s employees took to streets to protest against low wages which have been a norm in the company. At least as many as 1000 Wal-Mart stores were witness to congregations of employees and members of labor unions which were unanimous in their demands of a better pay package and job security.

Believed to have been organized by ‘OUR Wal-Mart’, this year’s strike is the third of its kind and had been preceded by workers walking off their jobs, employees staging fasts and participating in sit-ins. Diverse though the protestors might be in terms of region, ethnicity and other factors, they were united in projecting the opinion that Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) ’s $150 billion fortune had been amassed at the cost of its workers making less than $25,000 in one year.

Walmart (WMT)

In the words of Barbara Gertz, a Wal-Mart worker in Colorado, following was the mindset of the protestors –

“This isn’t just about me. This is about all Walmart communities. Sure the retaliation’s a concern, that they could fire me, but to me, it’s more important to speak up for my rights.”

On the flip side, protests of this nature have always been regarded as being antagonistic to the capitalist economy of the country and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT)’s reaction to the situation as provided to CNBC was as follows –

“Perception is never reality with labor unions. The crowds are made up of paid union demonstrators and they are not representative of our 1.3 million associates across the country.”

While the debate rages on, documents reflecting Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT)’s policy of not letting unions form within the organization have surfaced, thus exposing the company’s tacit stand on the matter.

This article has been written by Vinita Basu.

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