Between 4,000 to 5,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines every day for jobs overseas, often at poverty wages. BAYAN PNW, committed to the rights of workers, made it a priority to support the “Respect for Walmart Workers” campaign. Walmart is known as the biggest retail employer in the world, but also for setting the lowest standards and wages. While US associates make less than $25,000 without adequate benefits and job security, Walmart’s CEO is making $23 million annually.
On April 24th, BAYAN joined a vigil and action to show support for the factory workers in Bangladesh, many of whom are assembling products that are sold in Walmart. The campaign invited workers who survived the fire and now were community organizers themselves. “I jumped out the window, not to save myself, but so my family could find my body.” said Sumi Abedin, one of the Bangladeshi women determined to fight the unjust conditions that Walmart was creating around the world.
There was added sadness in the air, as two nights prior another Bangladeshi factory had collapsed. The workers had seconds to react, and the death toll reached over 1,000. As part of the vigil, we helped build a shrine for the workers who died in front of the Renton store, and talked to customers about holding Walmart accountable.
Co-Coordinator Katrina Pestano aka “Rogue Pinay” wrote a song dedicated to Bangladeshi workers “The Workers Anthem” which was performed at Folklife for the first time, one year after the fire at a Walmart factory in Bangladesh.