130,000 call out retail behemoth Walmart’s supplier for ‘forced labor’ and ‘brutal conditions’
ECM Plus +++ In yet another corporate social responsibility PR blunder, a worker’s campaign on change.org is calls on retail giant Walmart to cancel a contract with a seafood supplier accusing the retail corporate of ‘forced labor’.
According to change.org, just-wrapped investigation by an independent watchdog group has now verifies the employee reports of brutal conditions and threats of violence.
Over 130,000 people have already joined a popular campaign at change.org calling on Walmart to drop the contract with a Louisiana-based seafood company, called CJ Seafood, until the company ends the alleged abuses of workers in its Breaux Bridge facilities.
Ana Rosa Diaz, a worker at the Breaux Bridge plant, said that supervisors have forced workers to work up to 24 hours at a time – with no overtime pay, of locking them in the facility, and threatening to beat them with ‘a shovel’ to stop them from taking breaks.
According to Diaz, who created a petition on Change.org with the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA)- a membership organization that represents thousands of guestworkers across the United States of America, is asking Walmart to hold CJ’s accountable for violating their supplier standards and to help stop the forced labor.
In a matter of days, Ana and the NGA have mobilized over 130,000 people to join their campaign.
“We were forced to work 15 to 24 hour shifts and we were threatened with violence when we tried to take breaks,â€ said Ana. â€œOur boss threatened us and our families and we went on strike to demand safety and basic rights. But our boss refused, so now weâ€™re taking our demands to Walmart.”
Yesterday, the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights monitoring organization, released a report verifying Ana’s account and asking that Walmart no longer source from CJâ€™s until they can independently confirm that the violations have been addressed. CJâ€™s alleged abuses are also currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
“When people hear that abuse and forced labor might be connected to the goods they’re buying from their local Walmart, they want to do something about it,â€ said Tim Newman, Senior Campaigner at Change.org. “Ana’s campaign is providing that outlet.”
“It’s inspiring to see how Anaâ€™s story has resonated with people all across the country who want to make sure Walmart is doing something to protect its supplier’ workers,”said Tim.
Additional claims that were confirmed by the independent investigation: Ana and her co-workers say supervisors have blocked to door of their plant to keep them from taking breaks during their shifts and that they have been threatened with violence to speed up their production. Workers live in a labor camp adjacent to the facility and report that the company restricted their freedom of movement: for example, by requiring that workers receive permission to leave their housing. One worker contacted local authorities to report these conditions, but after a sheriff visited the plant, Ana says the companyâ€™s management threatened to attack their families members at home in Mexico for speaking out.
Live signature totals from the campaign can be found at http://www.change.org/walmart