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Schedule changes upset Wal-Mart China workers

Wal-Mart China employees are protesting over a “drastic” change in work schedules as the company overhauls its struggling business amid an economic slowdown and competition from eCommerce.
Wal-Mart Stores has had slow and uneven growth since opening its first China outlet in 1996. Its expansion into online retailing ended with the venture being taken over last month Chinese eCommerce company
Employees say Wal-Mart wants them to work 11-hour shifts on weekends and as little as four hours on weekdays under a system it started to roll out last month. Some say that might result in lower pay and interfere with their ability to work second jobs.
Staff members protested on Friday and Saturday last week outside Wal-Mart stores in Nanchang and Shenzhen in southern China, Chengdu in the west and Harbin in the northeast. More than half the Nanchang store’s workforce of 200 employees took part.
Meanwhile, the company says it is planning initiatives to “enhance and upgrade” Walmart China’s overall talent management system.”

Given option
Wal-Mart faced similar criticism in the US over its “just in time” scheduling system, which employees said changed work hours at short notice and meant lower pay for some. The company said in February that its US stores would switch, giving employees the option of working fixed hours or putting together schedules in two-week blocks.
In contrast to the US, Wal-Mart China’s workforce of 100,000 is represented by unions. Managers presented the new scheduling system in May, encouraging employees to sign new contracts. Employees were told they could keep working under previous contracts if they wanted, but those who did so found their paychecks were smaller because meal subsidies and other payments were eliminated, according to a Nanchang employee.
Retail sales in China rose 10 per cent in May compared with a year earlier, but down from 13 per cent in 2014. Meanwhile, online commerce has grown by more than 30 per cent.
Wal-Mart, which has 433 stores in China, bought a stake in online retailer Yihaodian in 2011 and took full control last year. But after gaining just 1.6 per cent market share, it turned over ownership to last month for a 5 per cent stake in the Chinese company.

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