Fight for Wal-Mart to end forced labor in U.S. moves to Mexico
NEW ORLEANS, LA—On Sep. 30, 2012, National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) executive director Scott Nova, and other civil and labor rights leaders will travel to Mexico to seek the Mexican government’s help in ending severe labor exploitation on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain.
The leaders, who formed a national investigative commission in June to fight forced labor on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain, will join with workers in briefing the Mexican government and human and labor rights groups on the severe exploitation Mexican workers have experienced at Wal-Mart’s U.S. suppliers.
Mexican H-2B guestworkers exposed forced labor at Louisiana Wal-Mart supplier CJ’s Seafood in June, just months after Wal-Mart faced allegations of a massive bribery cover-up in Mexico. Wal-Mart attempted a similar cover-up of the forced labor case, before admitting to abuses at CJ’s Seafood in the pages of the New York Times.
“Wal-Mart did nothing to protect the rights of workers at its supplier CJ’s Seafood, despite long-standing public assurances that it is policing its supply chain,” said WRC executive director Scott Nova. “Wal-Mart’s supply chain needs urgent investigation to uncover and prevent similar cases of forced labor.”
NOW president Terry O’Neill said: “Women made up the majority of the guestworkers experiencing forced labor at CJ’s Seafood. Wal-Mart has a track record of systematically discriminating against women, and this is one more case of their Ending exploitation on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain is an issue of women’s rights and human rights.”
Also meeting Mexican officials will be commission representatives from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Alejandra Ancheita from ProDESC, as well as worker-organizers from the National Guestworker Alliance’s Supply Chain Organizing Committee.
The group will meet with representatives of the Mexican Exterior Ministry, as well as Mexican human and labor rights groups.
“The C.J.’s case revealed how Wal-Mart’s business model leads to severe labor abuse and forced labor,” said NGA legal director Jennifer J. Rosenbaum. “Wal-Mart has been unwilling to cooperate with this commission or with workers to end these abuses. We’re now calling on the Mexican state to help guarantee the safety and security of its nationals on Wal-Mart’s U.S. supply chain.”
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