Shady Things That Everyone Just Ignores About Wal-Mart
With Wal-Mart providing their customers with more than just the essentials at insanely low prices, it’s no surprise that so many have decided to turn a blind eye to any allusions to shady behavior performed by the company so they could save a buck. People just tend to not care where their products are coming from, so long as they can walk out of a store with a week’s worth of groceries for under $50. However, maybe some of their latest stunts will inspire you to shop elsewhere.
The low cost of products on the shelves might be appealing, but few people know what Wal-Mart manufacturers go through each day to meet the company’s standards. Aside from taking jobs away from Americans, the conditions overseas workers must deal with is just appalling. For example, in Bangladesh, the minimum wage in the garment industry is $37 … per month. This adds up to less than $0.25 an hour, if they were to work the typical 40 hour work week Americans are accustomed to, but of course they don’t. They actually work much more — usually over twelve hours a day. Often these employees are forced to work seven days a week, and go months without a day off to rest.
So, how does Wal-Mart get away with this? They’ve been accused of paying off officials in foreign companies to keep the details hidden from the public. They’d rather throw their money away asking corrupt business owners to keep quiet than give it to hard-working Americans who’ve earned it.
It seems that most of the overseas manufacturers currently making more than half of Wal-Mart’s products employ underage and child laborers. There have been several disturbing reports that described how children are being beaten to increase productivity, and often pass out on the manufacturing floors from exhaustion, as they’re working anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day.
A human rights study performed by Harvard Law in 2006 interviewed some of these children, and found that they were often working seven days a week, for wages as low as 6.5 cents an hour. “The wages are so wretchedly low that many of the child workers get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste.” Wal-Mart might not be the only American corporation employing overseas children to keep manufacturing costs low, but they certainly are the largest.
You might want to reconsider where you buy your seafood, as it seems slave labor has taken over the shrimp business in Asia. Investigators have discovered that the world’s largest prawn farmer, Charoen Pokphand Foods in Thailand, buys their fishmeal to feed their farmed shrimp from suppliers who operate boats run by enslaved men. It seems that men are being kidnapped, sold to ship owners, and forced to work on these ships for twenty hours a day. It’s so bad that they’re being slaughtered like animals if their work isn’t up to par, and are severely beaten even if they’re doing what’s asked of them.
CP Foods, which sells both frozen and cooked shrimp to stores in the US and UK have admitted to knowing that slave labor is an essential part of their supply chain, yet major supermarkets continue to buy from them, including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Tesco. So, what does CP Foods have to say about all of this? Bob Miller, UK managing director, went on record to say, “We’re not here to defend what is going on. We know there’s issues with regard to the [raw] material that comes in [to port], but to what extent that is, we just don’t have visibility.” It seems that they’re going to stick with the conclusion that ignorance is bliss, and as long as they aren’t looking these slaves in the eye, they can go on with business as if they don’t exist. So it’s likely that if you’ve ever bought shrimp from Thailand, you’re financially contributing to slave labor.
Wal-Mart is seriously stuck in the ’50s in regard to many essential aspects of their company, including the salaries of their female employees. Over 50 percent of Wal-Mart employees identify as women, more than any other company in the United States. However, this is likely due to how women cost the company less money. On average, women earn $1.16 less than male employees who perform the same job, which adds up to $1,100 less per year. Sexism doesn’t only hurt the hourly employees on the sales floors though. Women who work in Wal-Mart’s corporate offices, in positions with salaries of $50,000 or higher, earn an average of $14,500 less than men in the same position.
If this isn’t enough to make you think of Wal-Mart as a store too glued to the ways of the past, the stores have been known to make it nearly impossible for a pregnant woman to work there. There have been several lawsuits against the company, based on claims from expecting mothers who were forced to work excessive hours, put in dangerous situations, and even fired for being unable to meet Wal-Mart’s standards while pregnant. Perhaps someone should remind them what year it is, and that we were all brought into this world the same way.
Employees who were hired to work overnight were locked inside of Wal-Mart stores, to ensure workers stayed the entire night. No, this wasn’t a policy from decades ago, before technology provided stores with security cameras and key cards to track an employee’s whereabouts. This happened in 2004, after the New York Times reported how this policy affected workers, giving examples like an Indiana man working overnight, suffering from a heart attack, and being unable to leave his Wal-Mart to seek medical help. Another example was when a hurricane hit Florida, and workers were trapped inside. Additionally, several overnight employees had discovered that their wives went into labor while they were working, and they couldn’t leave the store to be with them.
These reports were made public after several workers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, claiming they were forced to work without a day off, and over 70 hours a week, for a salary of just $1,500 a month. As these employees were all illegal immigrants, they lost the case and likely their jobs. Wal-Mart wasn’t forced to change their safety policies until 2013, including their ridiculous overnight lock-in policy.