Wal-Mart in dock over global work conditions

US retail giant Wal-Mart is being been taken to court over allegations that it failed to monitor working conditions at overseas factories.

The court action has been organised by the Washington-based International Labor Rights Fund, which says it has compiled tales of forced overtime, denial of minimum wages and even violence against workers.

The fund is seeking class-action status for the case and claims that grocery workers in southern California have been harmed because Wal-Mart’s low prices – allegedly made possible by substandard overseas factories – forced competing grocery chains to cut wages and benefits.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two classes of plaintiffs, reports Retail Week magazine.

The first includes factory workers in China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Swaziland and Nicaragua. The second group includes California grocery workers in smaller stores, who saw their wages and benefits cut as a result of competition from Wal-Mart.

A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said it had not seen details of the case, but added that it has started to research the issues raised.

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