Swedish state pension fund, the Second AP Fund, has disposed of its holding in Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Mexico due to alleged infringements of “human rights in working life”. The fund’s shares and bonds totalled SEK300m (US$41m).

The move follows similar action from Norway earlier in the year. Norska Etikkrådet, the Norwegian Council on Ethics, which acts as an advisor to the Norwegian State Pension Fund, claimed to have gathered extensive evidence documenting how Wal-Mart systematically infringes internationally accepted ethical norms. On the basis of this evidence, the Norwegian State Pension Fund disposed of its own holdings in the company earlier this year.

“Wal-Mart has so many documented incidents concerning the infringement of norms, both within its own operations and throughout its supply chain that, in our opinion, the existence of an inherently unethical system is placed beyond all reasonable doubt,” says Eva Halvarsson, CEO, Second AP Fund.

The state fund said that it had tried to influence Wal-Mart’s position on employment rights since 2003 – writing letters, exercising its voting rights at AGMs and participating in investor groups. However, the company failed to shift. 

A spokesperson for the world’s largest retailer described the accusations as “baseless”, stating that the company supports unionisation at its stores and offers competitive salaries to employees.