Organized by South Carolina Workers Rights Coalition, the 7 a.m. “Block the Boat” protest at 400 Long Point Rd. intends to speak out for both interests simultaneously.
The cargo on the Maersk Carolina, scheduled to arrive at the Wando containership terminal on the morning of Dec. 20, includes goods salvaged from the Bangladesh factory that lost over 100 workers to a fire last month.
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The products are intended for regional locations of Wal-Mart, the corporation known for low-pay jobs and significant contribution to the foreign trade deficit.
Because there is no parking at the demonstration site, participants are requested to arrive at the nearby Starbuck’s in Belle Hall Shopping Center (636 Long Point Dr.), then call (843) 870-5299. Organizers will shuttle participants to the nearby location.
Transportation will also be provided from a parking location in downtown Charleston. A van will leave from Charleston Visitor Center (375 Meeting St.) at 6:40 a.m.
An organizing meeting, hosted by demonstration participant SC Progressive Network, is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight in the club room of the Sgt. Jasper apartment complex (310 Broad St. in Charleston).
Other demonstration promoters are the national Corporation Action Network and Charleston’s Petigru Free Speech Defense. Members of Occupy Charleston are also participating.
The Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, which makes many clothing items sold by the discount department store, caught fire on Nov. 24; 112 employees died.
Upgrades in factory safety and fire prevention were requested last year, but a Wal-Mart representative blocked the proposal, say two Bangladeshi officials.
Not only is this shipment of its products an insult to the workers who died in that fire, says the protest organizer, but it furthers damage to the American economy and employment, too.
While Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest employer and clears over $15 billion in annual net profit, 80 percent of its workers qualify for food stamps due to low pay.
The annual cost of government benefits to these workers, who are paid an average of only $8.81 an hour, comes to $2.66 billion, according to Good Jobs First.
Wal-Mart’s use of foreign-made products is responsible for the loss of 196,000 American jobs, says the Economic Policy Institute, and the corporation is also responsible for 11 percent of the total trade deficit with China.
That the company is also now directly related to the loss of 112 lives in its business practices should be the last straw, says the Workers Rights Coalition.
Labor representatives in Bangladesh support the demonstration. A letter from the president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation and the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity says “We hope that this action will help paint a new picture and a new future, one where the deaths of mothers, husbands, brothers and sisters will not be quickly be forgotten.”
While the protest is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m., actual time of the freight liner’s arrival could be later, says William Hamilton, who’s aiding organization of the demonstration.
Interested participants can contact Hamilton by phone (843-870-5299) or email (email@example.com) to get updates on the protest.
To ensure orderliness and legal compliance, Mt. Pleasant police and Port of Charleston security have been notified of the demonstration.
The Maersk Carolina cargo ship was met by demonstrators yesterday when it landed at the Port of Newark in New Jersey, its first point of arrival. Approximately 60 protestors were present at the event, which was organized by the Alliance for a Greater New York.