Chinese Walmart Workers Write to AFL-CIO for Help

Editorial Note: In early March, 2014, workers at Walmart Changde began to fight for compensation when the management decided to close the shop. The workplace union there picketed the shop before they were forcefully removed. After this some workers at another Walmart branch wrote an appeal letter to the AFL-CIO for help

For further details of the workers' struggle see the CLB report.

Please Help Us Fight against Walmart’s Illegal and Brutal Closings

Dear AFL-CIO leadership,


I am a Walmart worker in China and writing to ask for help for hundreds of Chinese Walmart workers facing Walmart’s illegal and brutal closings! During Walmart’s expansion in China, establishing more than 400 stores, it has also suddenly closed several stores to maximize its profits and plan to close about 20 stores in 2014.


In previous years, Walmarts brutal closings led to a few suicidal attempts in Northeast China. Recently, more than 100 Walmart workers in Changde city of Hunan province, under the leadership of local union, got together to resist Walmarts plan. Walmart store management suddenly announced the closing plan on March 5th, without any prior information for workers, and replaced workers immediately, dragging workers from their posts. Walmart’s action is illegal, violating Article 4 of China Labor Contract Law which requires prior consultation with workers or worker representatives and negotiations with unions when firms make decisions with significant consequences to workers, and barbarous, enraging the union chairman and more than 100 workers who organized together to ask for the right of consultation and dignity and a reasonable closing package for workers.


This is the first organized resistance to Walmart, with the help of local Walmart union, in China and has inspired hundreds of workers in other two Walmart stores in Anhui province which were closed in Mid-March. Given Walmart’s abrupt announcement and cruel instant replacement, store union and workers did not have enough time to organize resistance and now loosed workplace power to force Walmart management to come to the bargaining table. Local police and security personnel fiercely suppressed workers¡¦ collective actions. Although several labor lawyers and scholars went to the store and are helping the workers, it would greatly help these workers if AFL-CIO or other relevant unions or organizations from the US which is the mother country of Walmart could join in our fight against Walmart.


Would you please join our campaign against Walmart’s illegal and brutal closings? This campaign would benefit several hundreds of Walmart workers since Walmart will close more than 20 stores this year and has the potential to inspire China’s local Walmart union, Walmart’s only union in the world, to represent workers instead of serving management. Would you please forward this message to any other unions or organizations/people that may be interest in a campaign against Walmart or helping Chinese Walmart workers? We would also appreciate your comments or advices in guiding our fight against Walmart!


Yours sincerely,

A worker from China Walmart



Workers at Walmart stores in Changde, Hunan Province and Maanshan, Anhui Province in China are protesting Walmart’s plans to close the stores.


According to the Financial Times (behind a paywall), Walmart is in the process of closing 20 stores in China.Store closures present workers globally with loss of income, disrupting family life, jeopardizing housing and the educational opportunities of children. Abrupt closures leave workers with little time to plan transitions, and are often an occasion for avoiding payments due workers when they are laid off. Media and labor activists in China report that Walmart has not consulted with the local union in Changde on its closure plans. Workers are demanding that the company comply with Chinese labor laws in full, rescind dismissals of its workers and negotiate in good faith with the local trade union. The AFL-CIO supports the demands of Chinese workers.


Further Reading:

UNI report on the case