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Wal-Mart relocation row ends
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08:47, April 24, 2009

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Wal-Mart China has settled a dispute with employees by making "big revisions" to its redeployment program.

The changes will impact around 2,000 mid-level managers around the country according to the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions.

The federation became involved after trade unions representing Wal-Mart workers reported on April 11 that senior management at the US-based retailer planned to relocate some mid-level managers to new stores in other Chinese cities under threat of demotion or even dismissal.

"After talks with the employee representatives, Wal-Mart has taken the concerns of the employees and made big revisions to its plan, which finally reached a win-win situation," said Wang Tongxin, vice-chairman of the federation.

The company will give a one-off reward of 3,000 yuan ($440) to those who agree to work in the new stores, facilitate their moving and offer training, said the federation.

The managers will be promoted to a higher position if their current positions have been cancelled in the new stores and they will not see a drop in salary.

Wal-Mart also agreed that managers who stay on at the same store would not be punished or miss out on a pay rise.

The revisions will be applied to all Wal-Mart stores in China, according to the federation.

"It's understandable that a company adopts a restructuring plan at an adverse time, but the decision must be achieved after negotiation with the employees, rather than a one-sided order, if it would affect the benefits of the employees," Wang said.

The US retail giant, which has its Chinese headquarters in this southern city bordering Hong Kong, launched the plan to "support the company's robust growth plan in China", according to the company.

It intended to cancel the position of manager, which followed store general manager, executive deputy manager, and deputy manager and is superior to supervisor, and move staff to support expanding outlets.

Despite the global economic slump, Wal-Mart opened 23 outlets in China this year and has 50,000 employees.

"After revision, our program is going well. A growing number of employees understood the company's strategy and are willing to accept the arrangement," Chen Lu, a Wal-Mart China public relations official told China Daily.

However, some employees have said it will take time to rebuild their trust.

"We are not sure now whether the company can keep its promise. Meanwhile, we are confused about the future. Some of the measures could not last for a long time," said a Wal-Mart manager in Shenzhen, who asked to remain anonymous.

Source: China Daily

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