Hundreds of workers of retail giant Walmart rallied across a dozen cities in the United States (US), protesting against low wages and alleged unjust labour practices and have threatened to go on a nationwide strike on November 23.
The 'Black Friday' is the day following Thanksgiving Day in US, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Most major retailers open extremely early on the day, often at 4 am or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season.
It is said to be the busiest day for Walmart.
Walmart and its practices have made the news a lot, lately. In mid-September, warehouse workers in Southern California were on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs. Around the same time, hundreds of people marched in Dallas and San Diego, demanding better work conditions.
The retail giant dismissed the protests as nothing more than union publicity stunts. But several union workers asserted that they were serious about going ahead with their strike call if their demands were not met.
According to news reports, workers held walkouts and marches in cities across the US including those in Dallas, San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington DC, Sacramento and even at its headquarters in Arkansas.
According to "Making Change at Walmart", 100 associates travelled to the company's corporate head quarters to call on it to stop trying to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for job improvements.
"Walmart's efforts to try to silence us is only building support among our co-workers, in calling for changes at the store. We will not be silenced, especially on 'Black Friday' when Walmart wants us to cut short the holiday with our families to help the company profit. If Walmart wants workers fully committed to the stores on 'Black Friday', Walmart needs to do more for us, the rest of the days of the year," Colby Harris, who earns just $8.90 an hour after three years of working at Walmart in Lancaster, Texas, said in a press statement.
The company's spokesman Dan Fogleman in an interview to ABC news refuted the charges and said majority of the company's employees are against the idea of strike. "They seem to recognise that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry - good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement," he said.
With inputs from PTI