United States: Walmart hit by Black Friday walkoutsDominic RusheGuardian
Retail giant Walmart was hit by protests and staff walkouts at stores across the US yesterday - Black Friday, the busiest shopping day in the retail calendar.
The actions began on Thursday, as workers protested over the decision to open on Thanksgiving, which is traditionally a national holiday. Organisers claimed there were 1,000 protests in 46 states yesterday. Walmart workers in Miami, Dallas, Wisconsin, San Francisco's Bay area, Chicago and Washington DC took part in the walkout over wages and working conditions. The demonstrations were co-ordinated by OUR Walmart, a workers' group that last month led the first strikes at the retailer.
Walmart said that it had its best Black Friday ever and that most protesters were not Walmart workers. "Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates," said Bill Simon, Walmart's US president and chief executive. "We had very safe and successful Black Friday events at our stores across the country and heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers."
The retailer estimated that fewer than 50 Walmart workers had taken part in the protests. "Roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year," Simon said.
But protesters said hundreds of workers were taking action, and that this was just the beginning.
"Walmart has spent the last 50 years pushing its way on workers and communities," said Mary Pat Tifft, an OUR Walmart member who led a protest on Thursday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Colby Harris, an OUR Walmart member in Texas, said: "We are overwhelmed by the support and proud of what we've achieved so quickly."