Tell Walmart: Intervene Before Labor Activists Are Sentenced to Death
  • Petitioned Lorenzo Lopez

This petition was delivered to:

Director, Media Relations, Walmart
Lorenzo Lopez
Walmart
Rajan Kamalanathan
Chief Marketing Officer, Walmart
Stephen Quinn
CEO, Walmart
Mike Duke
VP, Corporate Communications, Walmart
Mona Williams

Tell Walmart: Intervene Before Labor Activists Are Sentenced to Death

    1. Petition by

      International Labor Rights Forum

In Bangladesh, the minimum wage for a garment worker is a mere US$43 per month.  Studies show that this wage fails to cover the cost of the minimum nutritional needs of a single worker, let alone a family.

When workers staged protests demanding a livable wage and better working conditions, the Bangladeshi government and factory owners retaliated with charges against three labor leaders from the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Aminul Islam.  The charges are wholly unsubstantiated and fabricated. Kalpona and Babul spent 30 days in jail, Aminul a week, in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.  Officials beat Babul with a wooden stick and made threats to his life during his detention.  Aminul had been previously tortured by National Intelligence officers. All three are now free on bail, but the false charges against them remain. If convicted, they face as much as life in prison and, in a worst case scenario, the death penalty.

As one of the largest buyers of Bangladeshi-made clothing, Walmart has the power to ensure that Bangladeshi garment workers who face poverty wages and abusive conditions can stand up for their rights without risking harassment, imprisonment and torture. Ask Walmart to tell its suppliers, Nassa Group and Envoy Group, that have instigated false charges against Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, Aminul Islam, and other labor leaders to drop those charges; that the officers responsible for torturing peaceful labor leaders must be held accountable; and that labor rights defenders like the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity must be allowed to operate freely.

The trial for one case against BCWS leaders began on June 29, 2011. Nine additional cases are pending and may move to trial soon.  Your action is urgent!

For more background, read our report: Enemies of the Nation or Human Rights Defenders? Fighting Poverty in Bangladesh.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 100,000 signatures
    2. Activists to Flyer Walmart Stores, Demand Freedom for Labor Leaders

      Activists are taking this campaign direct to Walmart's doorstep and flyering stores. Wanna participate, check for information at the link below.

    3. One False Charge Dropped, Ten to Go

      Can we reach 100,000 signatures to help drop the other ten false charges against these activists?

    4. Victory Part 1: Bangladesh Labor Leaders Win One Case; Ten More Cases Still

      There are ten cases remaining, all based on unsubstantiated and false charges, so the campaign continues. ILRF’s tracking and research indicates that Walmart suppliers and service providers are linked to at least five of the cases filed.

    5. Your voices are being heard! One of the cases against the activists has been dropped and now only ten remain. Let's keep the pressure on Walmart to do more to save these courageous individuals.

    6. 1 case down, 10 more to go! We're making a difference!
      One of the cases (#33) filed by Walmart's supplier Nassa has been dismissed. This case had claimed that Babul and Aminul were accused of extorting money from Nassa managers when neither of them was present at the Nassa factory at the time the alleged crime took place. We're asking Walmart to further investigate these false accusations by one of its major suppliers. And we're continuing to call for the dismissal of the the rest of the fabricated cases that leaders of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity are facing.

    7. The Washington Post on Walmart's shady record om labor, both overseas and in the U.S.:

    8. Check out the photos from Kalpona's visit to Bentonville for the Walmart shareholder meeting:

    9. Our latest report from Bangladesh indicates that one case may have been dropped. We're still waiting for the evidence to confirm this. But this is only one out of the 11 fabricated cases filed by suppliers for Walmart and other major retailers.

    10. Kalpona delivered your petitions to Walmart CEO Mike Duke today at the shareholder meeting!

    11. Kalpona in the Metro today:

    12. Call-In Day to Ask Walmart to Save Activists from Possible Execution

      Over the past couple weeks, nearly 94,000 people have asked Walmart to cut ties with Bangladeshi suppliers who have filed false criminal charges against labor leaders, unless those charges are dropped. But Walmart still stubbornly refuses to...

    13. Kalpona in NY Times today:

    14. Memorial Day weekend came and went, and while Walmart honored America's veterans' ultimate sacrifice for freedom, they seem prepared to let labor activists face prison or even death for cheap t-shirts.

    15. Walmart's Facebook Page Under Week-Long Seige By Labor Rights Supporters

      Walmart's Facebook page has been the steady target of labor rights supporters for a week now. Since Monday morning, Walmart shoppers and other consumers from around the world have been leaving the company messages, asking them to intervene to stop...

    16. Australian magazine Reportage covers the ongoing Facebook pressure on Walmart:

    17. The bombardment of Walmart's Facebook wall continues. Have you told them you support labor rights, yet?

    18. Kalpona and her colleagues have said they are so grateful for all the support they are getting, and are hopeful that the garment companies which supply Walmart and other western brands will drop the falsified charges against them.

    19. This campaign just led a segment on Free Speech TV!

    20. Kalpona will be speaking via telephone to many of the activists supporting this campaign this afternoon, asking them to keep fighting for justice! You can keep fighting by leaving a message on Walmart's Facebook wall:

    21. The Daily Kos picks up this story and encourages people to leave Walmart a message on their Facebook wall:

    22. Don't let Walmart get away with meaningless PR boilerplate responses on their Facebook page!

    23. Although Walmart is now engaging with us on facebook, they're not actually answering our appeal about the falsely accused labor advocates. Rather they are avoiding the question and giving a pat answer about last year's review of the minimum wage level. I'm sure Walmart isn't fooling anyone with this answer, but just in case I figured I'd post some background about minimum wages in Bangladesh's ready-made-garments sector. Here goes:

      The minimum wage raise in Bangladesh went into effect on Nov. 1, 2010. Following major protests by workers who were urging US$72/month, the minimum wage was raised from only US$23/month to about US$43/month (which was the highest rate that companies like Walmart were willing to negotiate). It may seem like the wage increase is nevertheless significant, but Bangladesh has faced serious price hikes. So in terms of real wages, compared to the 2005 increase, it's not actually an increase and it's still hard for workers to put enough food on the table to feed their families. The new wage rate remains about half the minimum wage in China and at least a third or a fourth of a living wage calculation for Bangladesh. You can read more about the background of the wage debate in our report "Enemies of the Nation or Human Rights Defenders? Fighting Poverty Wages in Bangladesh," downloadable at

    24. After being publicly called out, Walmart has stopped censoring their Facebook wall. Leave them a message!

    25. Consumers Demand Walmart Fight Possible Execution of Labor Activists

      In Bangladesh, suppliers for Walmart and other multinational companies have filed false criminal charges against three labor rights activists, which could mean life in prison or even the death penalty. In response, a movement of tens of thousands of...

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