Walmart Workers on Strike
In July, the struggle of Walmart workers in China entered a new phase. Early that month, Walmart workers at retail stores in Nanchang, Chengdu, and Harbin staged wildcat strikes against the company’s new working hour system. Dozens of workers from each of these stores participated in the strikes, holding signs, and chanting slogans inside the Walmart premises. The strikes were coordinated via workers’ online networks facilitated by the Walmart Chinese Workers Association (WCWA), an informal group led by former employees of the company. The Financial Times reports that there were forty such WeChat groups with about twenty thousand members, roughly a fifth of Walmart’s workforce in China. The AllChina Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) neither organised nor intervened in the strikes. Workers ended their protest only after management promised a response, but the company never stopped pushing for the new working hour system to be adopted in its retails stores. These strikes represent a rare instance of cross-regional labour organisation leading to work stoppages. Since July, individual Walmart workers have taken the company to arbitration on issues related to the new working hour system.