Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey Wal-Mart, let's call it what it is: Slavery

Two guestworkers met with Wal-Mart officials Friday to talk about ways to make sure contractors treat workers better.

You know, by not enslaving them.

The National Guestworkers Alliance issued a press statement on Monday about the meeting between Wal-Mart management and  Ana Rosa Diaz and Martha Uvalle. The two women exposed forced labor at Wal-Mart supplier CJ’s Seafood in June 2012.

NGA's statement says:
...the workers pressed for protections against the severe labor abuse that is common in current guestworker programs. At CJ’s Seafood, guestworkers were forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours without overtime pay, locked into the plant, and faced threats of violence against themselves and their families when they spoke up.
Sounds like slavery to us.

It also sounds like slavery to Anti-Slavery International. The UK-based group says this about slavery:
Common characteristics distinguish slavery from other human rights violations. A slave is:
  • forced to work -- through mental or physical threat;
  • owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse;
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property';
  • physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.
Anti-Slavery International estimates there are 27 million slaves in the world and 200 million people who live in some sort of bondage.

Check out this cool (but disturbing) interactive map that shows what products are made by slaves around the world. You might want to avoid buying them.