Wal-Mart workers demand rights - Metro US

Wal-Mart workers demand rights

This Friday, New York City will take a stand against Wal-Mart.

During Wal-Mart’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Comptroller John Liu will request that the mega-franchise prove that they and their subcontractors uphold basic human rights in all of their factories around the world.

New York City’s pension funds collectively hold 5.7 million shares of Wal-Mart, valued at $316 million.

Liu, who is in charge of the funds, asked Kalpona Akter to speak at Friday’s meeting. Akter, a former child laborer in Bangladesh, is facing life imprisonment and possibly the death penalty for organizing unions for garment workers employed by Wal-Mart subcontractors.

“The workers have been threatened, beaten and sent to jail,” said Akter. “Wal-Mart is responsible for this.” Akter also said that workers are routinely denied drinking water and maternity leave.

Wal-Mart’s plans to open a flagship store in New York City have been met with ire. “Wal-Mart cannot claim to be that bright, yellow smiley face,” said Liu.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.

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