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Walmart would threaten India's economy - UNI report

Mar '12
At an international stakeholders' meeting in Delhi, UNI GLOBAL UNION launches Walmart's Global Track Record and the Implications for FDI in Multi-Brand Retail in India' report .

UNI is urging the Indian government to use its decision to put foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail on hold to have a close look at the threat Walmart represents to India's economy, as a key part of its on-going consultation process.

Report highlights:
• UNI report exposes myth that Walmart would be good for India
• India's government must recognize that Walmart has a case to answer
• Time for India to get tough because Walmart does not play by the rules
• India is the final frontier with a lot at stake – wrong to open up the floodgates
• Decision on whether to allow FDI in multi- brand retail and under what conditions crucial to future of India's economy where 99% is informal
• South African government took a stand India should do likewise

Christy Hoffman, the Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union said, “We have presented compelling evidence to the Indian government that should it decide to proceed with FDI in multi-brand retail it must first examine Walmart's appalling track record and act accordingly by introducing much tougher conditions than are on the table at present."

"India needs to make sure that its workers do not suffer the same negative effects as other Walmart workers around the world. They must have the right to be unionised, have decent working conditions and wages, including the right to collective bargaining. India has the opportunity to set the bar higher and it must take it.”

The suspended decision on FDI stipulates the incoming multinationals led by Walmart would have to source only 30% of its supplies from smaller Indian enterprises. It's not enough and it's not enforceable. It matters because Walmart is the number one retailer in the world and controls a large part of the global supply chain. India's economy will be transformed and not for the better if the Walmart model is applied.

The report key findings:

• Without adequate safeguards in place, FDI in multi-brand retail will lead to widespread displacement and poor treatment of Indian workers in retail, logistics, agriculture and manufacturing.
• FDI without strong conditions in place could lead to massive disruption of the Indian economy and society.
• Walmart says it will eliminate unnecessary costs, but instead the company will transfer the burden of these costs onto supplier companies, manufacturers, retail workers, farmers, and society at large.
• The report examines the track record of Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, with global revenue of $421 billion USD in 2010 3.5 times the revenue of the next-largest competitor.

The report reflects the experiences of UNI affiliates and in particular the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) from North America which took part in stakeholder meeting.

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