US: Ask Wal-Mart to pay the kids

Wal-Mart exploits thousands of teenage grocery baggers in Mexico, relying on their work but forcing them to work only for tips, Wal-Mart Watch reveals. Learn more by watching the video below, and then send a letter to officials from Wal-Mart and the Mexican Labor Department telling them to end this unethical practice. Also, have a look a the observations made in 2007 by the ILO Committee of experts to US government concerning ‘Worst forms of Child Labour Convention’.

According to Wal-Mart Watch, the Federal investigators found Wal-Mart complementing low wages with low ages:

Employing Teens in Unsafe Conditions. In January 2005, after an investigation of 27 stores in three states, Wal-Mart reached a settlement with the United States Department of Labor for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Wal-Mart paid a $135,540 fine for allowing 85 workers, aged 16 and 17, to participate in activities prohibited to minors — “including loading and occasionally operating or unloading scrap paper balers, and operating fork lifts.” Wal-Mart signed an agreement with the Department’s Wage and Hours Division regarding future child labor conditions. [U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, 2/14/05.]
Negotiating for Weak Enforcement. An audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the child labor agreement between Wal-Mart and the Department of Labor found “serious breakdowns in the WHD [Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division] process for negotiating, developing, and approving such agreements. These breakdowns resulted in the WHD entering into an agreement that gave significant concessions to Wal-Mart. Specifically, the agreement provided for advance notification by WHD of Wal-Mart investigations, and gave Wal-Mart the ability to avoid civil money penalties (CMP) under certain conditions. In exchange, the agreement primarily committed Wal-Mart to continue measures that were already in place or required by law. Also, WHD did not consult with the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) in developing and approving the agreement.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: “This report constitutes an unexpected and virtually unprecedented indictment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s sweetheart deal with Wal-Mart. [It] should lead us to be more vigilant and vigorous in enforcing our state child protection laws.” [U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Audit, 10/05; Hartford Courant, 11/1/05.]

Ratification of fundamental labour rights in Northern and Southern America

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