The Socialist Movement of Workers, MST, protested inside the Walmart Supercenter in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Monday, denouncing under-employment and converting the U.S. Labor Day holiday into the “Day of Unemployment."
The protest forced Walmart to temporarily closed its doors after the police intervened.
“Walmart represents poverty, looting, exploitation, oppression and discrimination,” said the MST in a communique. “This megastore is the symbol of the life conditions and exploitation which want to doom us with the Fiscal Board,” it added, referring to the recently Washington-imposed board that will oversee the financial restructuring of Puerto Rico's debt.
“Walmart not only displaced a number of small and medium businesses, but also gave very low-paid jobs to workers here, who are now unable to find good wages,” said MST spokesperson Hugo Delgado. “Under-employment, in our opinion, is just as problematic as unemployment. Today, on Labor Day in Puerto Rico, we are celebrating something that does not exist: employment.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico reached over 11 percent in July—totaling about 130,000 people, with a 0.2 percent increase compared with the previous month.
“The issue with unemployment and underemployment in Puerto Rico is that it is not correctly monitored: each employee counts twice if they are working in two different companies,” explained Delgado.
According to the MST spokesperson, the sectors the most affected by under-employment are service, retail and the food industry.