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Walmart Announces Increases in Wages/Opportunities for Walmart Associates February 20th, 2015
The Missionary Oblates JPIC USA and the OIP Trust have been a part of the ongoing conversation that shareholders have sustained with Walmart over many years. In a meeting with Walmart CEO Doug McMillion in 2014, the need to deal with income inequality and the inadequacy of minimum wage levels was on the agenda and openly debated. He listened attentively and participated. Fr. Seamus Finn, OMI, who participated in these dialogs, said: “We are pleased by the announcement that the company has made, because it will make a real difference in the lives of so many individuals and families and hopefully press other companies and the Congress of the United States to address these issues that are real challenges for our society and the future wellbeing of so many families.”
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and shareholders of Walmart were heartened by Walmart’s announcement on February 19th, of measures it is taking to improve both wages and opportunities for advancement for its 1.3 million U.S. employees.
ICCR members who have long engaged the company on employee wage and benefit issues are hopeful that, as the world’s largest employer, Walmart’s announcement will send a strong signal of the importance of raising wages for U.S. workers. The shareholder coalition has engaged companies in a range of sectors, including agriculture, apparel, consumer goods, restaurant, and technology on similar issues throughout their global supply chains. According to the package of changes the company announced today, Walmart has committed to increasing its base pay rate to $9/hr. in all markets and to raising its current associates’ wages to $10 an hour or higher by early next year. For reference, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr. In addition the company is reforming how schedules are developed for its Associates and investing in capacity-building programs that will provide internal advancement opportunities.
Oblates and ICCR Meet with Walmart CEO August 30th, 2014
North American Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative Insufficient in Curbing Supply Chain Risk, Say Investors.
Legal accountability and full multi-stakeholder participation, including trade union role in governance structure, cited as critical elements lacking in plan versus Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
Upon initial review, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) based in New York, and long-term shareholders in apparel brands and retailers found the new initiative put forward this morning by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety lacking in sufficient worker protections and accountability mechanisms. ICCR members, including Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Investments, Domini Social Investments LLC, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Trillium Asset Management, LLC, who have been engaging major apparel brands and retailers on worker rights and supply chain risk for over 15 years, view the new plan as a weaker alternative to the pre-existing Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (the Accord).
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Walmart Investors Voice Deep Concerns over Bribery Allegations April 24th, 2012
Shareholders Identified Company’s “Aggressive and Competitive” Growth Strategies as Lacking Ethical Standards in a 1999 Letter to Management
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) , a coalition of faith-based and responsible institutional investors that have been actively engaging Walmart on social environmental, and governance issues are dismayed by recent reports in the NY Times alleging systematic bribery and corruption beginning in 2005 to facilitate the rapid expansion of their retail operations in Mexico. The Missionary Oblates is an active member of ICCR and engaged in the dialog with Walmart.
Said Sr. Barbara Aires of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, New Jersey who has led the Walmart engagement for over 20 years, “We have a tremendous investment in this company in terms of our time, expertise and yes, capital, and find these allegations deeply disturbing on so many levels. Should these reports be confirmed, we deem this a significant breach of trust and loss of management credibility.”
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US Textile Trade Associations Press Bangladeshi Government on Murder of Labor Leader April 20th, 2012
A number of textile trade associations and unions sent a letter to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister in response to the recent murder of labor activist, Aminul Islam. Mr. Islam was a senior organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). Both organizations have been working to help workers combat low wages, deadly factory fires, and repression of their right to organize. This letter went to the Prime Minister through the initiative of ICCR shareholders with Wal-Mart and PVH Corp. (Phillips Van Heusen). The Missionary Oblates is an active member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).
The International Labor Rights Forum sent out this information on Aminul Islam on April 12th:
Last Wednesday, Aminul Islam left his office for evening prayers. He noticed a police van parked outside and called his colleagues, worried about possible harassment. Then he went to meet with a worker. He never returned home.
His body was found a day later. According to police reports his legs had severe torture marks including a hole made by a sharp object. All his toes were broken.
Aminul was a senior organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). ILRF has worked with BCWS and BGIWF for many years. They have been a critical force in the effort to defend workers’ rights in a country known for sub-poverty wages, deadly factory fires, and repression of the right to organize.
Over the past two years, the government of Bangladesh has carried out a campaign of intimidation and harassment against BCWS. On June 16, 2010, Aminul was detained by security forces, beaten repeatedly and threatened with death, in an attempt to coerce him into making incriminating statements against the organization. Not long after, he and his colleagues Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter were arrested and kept in jail for nearly a month, where they were subjected to psychological and physical abuse. Since 2010, Aminul, Kalpona and Babul have faced criminal charges for which no substantiating evidence has been presented.
Given this history, there is strong reason to suspect that Aminul’s murder was in retaliation for his efforts as a labor rights organizer and to fear this could represent a violent escalation in the repression of worker rights advocates in Bangladesh.
Join with us in calling for a thorough and impartial investigation into Aminul’s murder. BCWS and BGIWF have asked for an outpouring of letters to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Please take a moment to add your voice!