Don’t you just love Wal-Mart.

The Wal-Mart Way. Exploit everyone you can, wherever you can, every time you can.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Wal-Mart Watch released a new digital video today to raise awareness about the nearly 20,000 teens who work without pay in Wal-Mart’s Mexican stores. To view the video, click here.

The unethical practice was brought to national attention by a Newsweek Web Exclusive story by Joe Contreras last summer entitled “Teens at Work.” The article explained how Wal-Mart takes advantage of a legal loophole in Mexico, which allows the use of unsalaried youths if they are “volunteering” their services. Wal-Mart considers the teens, ages 14-16 as “volunteers” rather than workers – despite the fact that they wear company vests, have assigned work hours and provide grocery bagging services for Wal-Mart’s customers.

In the Newsweek article, top labor officials in Mexico disagreed with Wal-Mart’s actions. Mexico City Federal District Labor Secretary Benito Mirón Lince said, “In economic terms, Wal-Mart does have the capability to pay the minimum wage [of less than $5 a day], and this represents an injustice.” Wal-Mart de Mexico is the country’s largest private employer with $550 million in profits during the first half of 2007.

Wal-Mart has a history of sweatshop labor in overseas factories and unfair labor practices in the U.S. and other countries, including Mexico. The company has over 80 wage and hour lawsuits pending against it in the United States, and in February 2005 was forced to pay $135,540 in civil money penalties to the U.S. Department of Labor over charges of 24 child-labor violations.

Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director David Nassar said, “Wal-Mart demonstrates time and time again that it will do anything to get out of paying its workers a fair wage – or any wage at all, in this case. This video portrays just one, egregious example of Wal-Mart’s willingness to twist the truth and take advantage of its workers – and these teens are indeed workers. By bringing more attention to the issue, we hope Wal-Mart will get the message that it needs to pay these teen workers.”

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Filed under Social Justice, Wal-Mart

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