Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another Reason to Hate Wal-Mart

They exploit their workers, especially women, and now they're exploiting teenagers in Mexico. According to Newsweek:
Wal-Mart is Mexico’s largest private-sector employer in the nation today, with nearly 150,000 local residents on its payroll. An additional 19,000 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 work after school in hundreds of Wal-Mart stores, mostly as grocery baggers, throughout Mexico—and none of them receives a red cent in wages or fringe benefits. The company doesn’t try to conceal this practice: its 62 Superama supermarkets display blue signs with white letters that tell shoppers: OUR VOLUNTEER PACKERS COLLECT NO SALARY, ONLY THE GRATUITY THAT YOU GIVE THEM. SUPERAMA THANKS YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING. The use of unsalaried youths is legal in Mexico because the kids are said to be “volunteering” their services to Wal-Mart and are therefore not subject to the requirements and regulations that would otherwise apply under the country’s labor laws. But some officials south of the U.S. border nonetheless view the practice as regrettable, if not downright exploitative.
Simply unconscionable.

2 comments:

Spokane Al said...

Forgive me for not understanding your issues here. Every US military commissary (the military's version of a grocery store) in the world operates exactly the same - no salary, no benefits, tips only and the vast majority of workers are school age kids.

Joyce said...

Don't know about U.S. commissaries (is this true of workers at commissaries in the States? They're not paid, only tipped?), but I'm assuming they're not-for-profit organizations. Wal-Mart is raking in a ton of money in Mexico (as Mexico's largest private employer) and even though what they're doing is perfectly legal, good grief. I'm sure the company would still do well if it paid these kids even a measly buck an hour. Most live in abject poverty. It just seems like taking advantage to me ... then again, I like it when companies have a civic conscience, when sheer profit and enriching shareholders is not the only reason for it to exist. Call me idealistic.