FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 22, 2013
One Year after New York Times Exposes Walmart Bribery Scandal in Mexico,
Communities around the Globe Call for Investigations, Removal of Walmart CEO and Board Chair from Leadership Posts
Failure of Walmart leadership to prevent and address unethical practices in Mexico, globally documented in new timeline
On the one-year anniversary of the New York Times story that exposed Walmart’s alleged wide-scale use of bribery in Mexico, communities around the globe are submitting ethics complaints to Walmart calling on the company to end its unethical business practices. Citing the failure of Walmart’s leadership to meaningfully address such practices in Mexico and globally, the complaints also demand that Walmart’s Board of Directors remove CEO Mike Duke and Board Chair Rob Walton.
In addition to over $24 million in alleged bribes were handed out to advance the company’s plans in Mexico revealed in the Times, possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations have been identified in Brazil, India, and China. Recent reporting shows that this failure of leadership is not only hurting the Walmart’s reputation, but also costing the company millions in investigation expenses.
“Walmart’s rapid expansion has remade the Mexican retailing landscape and now it turns out that bribery may have played a large role,” said Héctor de la Cueva, general coordinator for the Center for Labor Research and Union Consultation. “Many businesses closed, jobs were lost, and livelihoods disrupted as a result, and for many of those impacted it is impossible to seek redress.”
UNI Global Union is holding a one-day meeting in Mexico City to address Walmart’s treatment of Mexican communities and issue a set of demands.
“In my own country of India, Walmart is embroiled in a number of scandals,” said Hawkers Joint Action Committee member Dharmendra Kumar. “Many Indians have opposed our government’s decision to open our markets to companies like Walmart – a company that has allegedly contributed to the problem of corruption that plagues Indian society. Walmart must move toward an ethical business model.”
“As an advocate for garment workers, I’m familiar with Walmart’s unethical behavior,” said Kalpona Akter of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. “Hundreds of garment workers died in the Tazreen garment factory making Walmart clothing, and yet Walmart has refused to take responsibility. And from the December 5, 2012 New York Times I learned that back in 2011 that a Walmart official played a lead role in blocking an effort that might have prevented a tragedy like Tazreen from happening in the first place.”
Since April 2012, more details on Walmart’s unethical practices in Mexico have come to light. A second New York Times article published in December of last year indicated that top executives in Walmart de Mexico were not only aware of but also authorized the practice of using bribes to advance their business and personal interests. The Walmart 1% website, which addresses the influence of members of Walmart’s Board and the Walton family which has controlling interests in the company, recently released a timeline spanning 2005 to present, which documents the involvement of top Walmart executives implicated in the scandal – including Chairman Rob Walton and CEO Mike Duke—in ignoring and covering up concerns.
View the timeline here.
“It’s frustrating that in instances where Associates raise legitimate concerns about working conditions, the reaction is swift and unjust, while justice has been all but absent in the case of the Mexican bribery scandal,” said Walmart associate Gerardo Paladan in his complaint to the company.
In response to the company’s inaction, longtime Walmart worker Venanzi Luna has re-launched her petition calling for the resignation of Walmart CEO Mike Duke and Board Chair Rob Walton. Last year, the petition received nearly 20,000 signatures before being delivered to company executives at the annual shareholder meeting.
UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.