President & CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Walmart Home Office
702 SW 8th Street
9 April 2014, Hong Kong
Dear Mr. McMillon,
It has come to our concern that Walmart China is undergoing a large-scale closure programme. Alone in March 2014, at least six Walmart stores have been closed down[i]. According to Financial Times, Walmart China has planned to close about 20 stores by the end of this year[ii]. Without any prior consultation with workers, Walmart China suddenly announced on 5 March that Hunan Changde store no. 2024 would be closed on 18 March. Over 100 workers of the store were only given one day to consider internal job transfer. If not, they have to decide whether to accept the company’s compensation offer by 19 March.
The enterprise-level trade union once negotiated the issue with the company management directly but Walmart China was insincere at all – it sent out “employee settlement notice” to workers before any consensus were made, and violated the mutual agreement both parties agreed on by sending staff to moving out goods from the store. We learn that Walmart China is persuading workers individually but refuse to negotiate with the enterprise-level trade union anymore. On 28 March, the company then unilaterally announced the termination of work relation with workers and transferred the so-called “compensation” amount into workers’ bank accounts. SACOM knows that Walmart China is fully owned by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This shows your company’s disregard of the Chinese Trade Union Law and the rights that the Law entitles to trade union as representative of workers!
Walmart has won the election of “most hated company” in the States for many years[iii] and is infamous of its hostile attitude to trade unions and unionisation. Over the past few years, SACOM has published reports on the working condition of Walmart suppliers in China[iv]. In 2006, with support of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), unions were set up in Walmart China stores. Yet, the current store closure programme unveils Walmart’s ignorance to workers’ rights again and is obviously contradicting with your company’s beliefs of “integrity” and “respect for the individual”.
SACOM demands sternly that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. should
- ask Walmart China to obey the Chinese Trade Union Law. It should admit and respect the role of the enterprise-level trade union of Hunan Changde store no. 2024; and to start collective negotiation immediately on an equal footing;
- monitor Walmart China to start transparent and equal collective negotiation with workers from other stores affected by the closure programme, to handle matters of internal job transfer and termination of work relations immediately!
- ensure Walmart China to maintain good communication with workers and to work out reasonable compensation plans through collective negotiation in the future when the store closure programme goes further!
We look forward to receiving an official written response on this case from your company by 17 April 2014. Thank you!
Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM)
Anthony Rose, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Walmart Asia
Raymond Bracy, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability, Walmart China
iBesides Hunan Changde store, other affected stores include stores in Shanghai, Yancheng, Chongqing and Maanshan, http://finance.ifeng.com/a/20140327/11987192_0.shtml (in Chinese)
[ii] Financial Times, Official China union raises stakes in Walmart closure programme
[iii] 24/7 WallSt, The 10 Most Hated Companies in America, http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/01/10/the-10-most-hated-companies-in-america-3/
[iv] SACOM published a few reports on Walmart suppliers in China, e.g. The Story of Toys Made in China for Wal-Mart, http://sacom.hk/the-story-of-toys-made-in-china-for-wal-mart/