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Walmart cancels agreement as older adults demand bag packing jobs be returned

Mexico City, Mexico — Seniors in Mexico City held a protest in front of Walmart corporate headquarters claiming acts of discrimination after the company canceled its agreement with the National Institute for Older Adults (Inapam).

The Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores (Inapam) was the resource they relied upon for work as bag packers in their senior years. In May, Walmart canceled the agreement with Inapam, leaving more than 35,000 older adults who worked in more than 2,500 branches, without a source of income.

The protesters considered that the cancellation of the agreement between the company and Inapam is an act of discrimination against them.

During their protest, they demanded that they be allowed to return to work in the branches after they were suspended from working due to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 19, 2020, older adults were no longer permitted to volunteer as bag packers as part of the measures to prevent coronavirus infections in vulnerable groups.

A few weeks ago, the National Institute of Older Adults (Inapam) asked companies and institutions (self-service store chains) to reintegrate the elderly in their work as packers, however, instead of reinstating them, Walmart canceled the agreement.

In a May 12 statement, Inapam reported that Walmart “ratified its decision not to reinstate the elderly in their work as volunteer packers in their stores, including the subsidiaries Sam’s Club, Walmart Express (Superama) and Bodega Aurrera”.

According to Rocío Ruiz López, Directorate of Strengthening and Public Policies of Inapam, the argument of Walmart was that “users do not want anyone to touch their products, that they prefer to pack them, in addition to that, they (the store) no longer provides plastic bags.”

Inapam has approximately 77,000 older adults in its program, half of which, were employed at Walmart locations. After Walmart, Inapam will have 11 Productive Linkage Agreements in the Voluntary System of Merchandise Packer in force that include specific locations of store that include Select Fashions, Fresko, Chedraui and Soriana, among others.

In 2019, labor accusations by employees saw Walmart de México clarify that older adults who work as packers in their stores are not their employees, but are part of a signed agreement with the National Institute of Older Adults (INAPAM).

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