Asda Wal-Mart: The Alternative Report
This is the second in a series of War on Want alternative company reports. Their purpose is to compare and contrast the rhetoric of corporate social responsibility (CSR) with the reality of companies’ actual practices. The reports form part of War on Want’s ongoing campaign for a global framework of corporate regulation, and each recommends action that ordinary people can take to rein in the power of multinational corporations across the world.
This report looks at the world’s largest retail company,Wal-Mart, more familiar in the UK as the supermarket chain Asda.Wal-Mart has built a global empire of supermarket stores on an image of ‘always low prices’, and has expanded far beyond its original US base into Latin America, Europe and the emerging markets of Asia. In all its activities,Wal-Mart prides itself on its overriding desire to cut costs to a minimum.
Yet Wal-Mart’s relentless pursuit of the lowest possible prices has taken a heavy toll on its employees and suppliers.Workers in Wal-Mart stores and distribution centres have seen their rights violated as a result of cost cutting, while the company’s determined opposition to trade unions has denied employees essential protection and bargaining rights. Suppliers have also been exposed to ever worsening conditions as Wal-Mart turns the screw on source factories in some of the poorest countries in the world.