Prior to this decision, there was a protracted period during which PGGM expressed its concerns in multiple meetings with the company about the poor labour relations within the supermarket group and the management’s inadequate supervision in this respect. The policy pursued by Walmart in the US restricts employees’ opportunities to organise themselves in trade unions. This is not only contrary to fundamental principles and rights at work (ILO), but also contrary to the codes Walmart has compiled for its own suppliers.
Last year, we repeatedly posed questions regarding the bribery scandal in its subsidiary Walmex, but these questions were left unanswered. Moreover, as a shareholder, PGGM was offered no opportunity to discuss its concerns with the (independent) board members directly.
These facts render it impossible for PGGM to give constructive substance to its role as an active shareholder on behalf of its clients. In PGGM’s Responsible Investment policy, exclusion is always the final step, never an objective in itself. Via dialogue andby using its voting rights in shareholder meetings, PGGM does its utmost, on behalf of its clients, to encourage companies to implement responsible behavior. However, in the case of Walmart this ultimately has not been possible.