While shoppers flocked to several Walmart stores across the United States on Black Friday, the retailer also drew throngs of aggrieved employees and their supporters protesting in front of more than 1,600 stores nationwide.
In what is being touted as the biggest organized protest in the retailer's history, scores of people crowded in front of the outlets shouting slogans like "Walmart, Walmart, you're no good. Treat your workers like you should" and sporting placards that read "Walmart: Breaking the Promise of America."
A spokesperson had earlier said that most of demonstrators would be "paid" protestors and the crowds would see "very few" original Walmart employees rallying. The reality turned out to be quite the opposite.
The protests were organized by OUR Walmart, a union backed group of the retail chain, which has been arranging such rallies for the past three years. OUR Walmart could not say how many employees took part in the protests but going by the crowd, the number should be huge.
Walmart employees have been pushing for a raise in their minimum wage hike to at least $15 an hour and also want the company to clear their stance on hiring part-time workers and their pay.
The Walton-Family founded retail chain has also been accused of subduing employees who spoke up for their rights.
"There are numerous times when I have to scrounge for change or borrow a nickel to buy a 30-cent ramen noodle meal. All we're asking for is a living wage to support ourselves and our families. That should be a basic right," Barbara Gertz, a 46-year-old Walmart employee was quoted by AlJazeera America.
Organizers of the protests said that the demonstrations were not aimed at "crushing the holiday spirit" but was an attempt to raise awareness of what was going down at Walmart.
Walmart officials said that "no Walmart workers have walked off their jobs to participate," but admitted that many finished their shift and joined the rallies.
The protests haven't really hit Walmart's retail sales but have definitely tarnished the retailer's brand image, public relations.
OUR Walmart members told the New York Times that the company had responded to their claims and had promised to convert more part-time workers into full time employees and increase payments too.