Workers at Wal-Mart stores across America are planning to strike on Friday 23 November – “Black Friday”, the biggest holiday-season shopping day, falling in the week preceding Thanksgiving and a month from Christmas.
Wal-Mart workers, mainly organised in union-affiliated workers’ centres such as Making Change at Wal-Mart (which runs the “OUR Walmart” campaign), have waged a long-running campaign for rights at work which has already seen strikes and other direct actions at many stores.
Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has long been seen as one of the main foes of organised labour in America and equips managers with advice on how to keep their stores “union-free”.
It is already moving to take legal action against the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the union behind the Making Change coalition, for disruption that its actions have caused. Wal-Mart lawyer Steven Wheeless said: “The UFCW has orchestrated numerous pickets, mass demonstrations, flash mobs and other confrontational activities both inside and outside Wal-Mart facilities in support of its bargaining and recognition demands.
“Now, with the busiest shopping season of the year just days away, the UFCW is openly orchestrating and promoting attempted mass disruptions of Wal-Mart's customer shopping experience."
Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar warned that “there could be consequences” for employees who participated in the strike.
An OUR Walmart statement said: “We are tired of low pay, irregular schedules, and being treated with disrespect at our stores. As OUR Walmart, we are standing up on behalf of every Associate who is ready for change by refusing to work on Black Friday in protest of Walmart's attempts to silence us when we speak out.”
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