WAL-MART BACKS OUT OF MYANMAR
NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday that it has stopped ordering goods from Myanmar, but acknowledged that there are still some goods from the country remaining at Wal-Mart stores in Canada.
Wal-Mart’s comments came in response to Tuesday’s accusations from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, seeking to represent workers at Wal-Mart Inc., that the chain sells goods made by forced labor in Myanmar. The accusations were cited in a Reuters wire service report. The union charged that Wal-Mart’s Canadian operation has imported, through third-party vendors, nearly 70 tons of garments from Myanmar, formerly called Burma, since the end of last year.
“We demand that Wal-Mart sever all ties with any company doing business in Burma,” said Michael Leonard, a UFCW international vice president.
The UFCW said Wal-Mart declared in January that it would end trade with Myanmar.
Last month, the Geneva-based International Labor Organization passed a resolution against Myanmar’s alleged widespread use of forced labor.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said goods from the country came in the first part of this year. “We’re selling those through, but we have not reordered, and we are not receiving anything else in Canada. In the U.S., we have not received or sourced from Burma.”
Currently, Wal-Mart has no unionized stores. A store in Windsor, Ontario, was unionized by steelworkers, but was decertified earlier this year. One meat department with about 15 workers at a Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, Tex., is in the process of being unionized, having won an election, but is still without a contract. It’s being appealed by Wal-Mart.