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Wal-Mart managers will keep their jobs
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Wal-Mart managers will get to keep their jobs after a breakthrough in talks between their representatives and the management.

An outdoor Wal-Mart's advertisement [CFP]
An outdoor Wal-Mart's advertisement [CFP]

The world's largest retailer has come under criticism after it announced it would reduce the number of mid-level managers at its 145 stores in China from April 17.

Under its "redeployment program", affected employees would be asked to work in Wal-Mart new stores in other cities or face demotion and a salary reduction at the same store.

Managers were also given the option of leaving the company and being paid compensation.

The recent breakthrough came after at least four rounds of talks between Wal-Mart management and the union in the past week.

"We have adjusted the program after meeting the employee representatives last Friday," said Chen Lu, a public relations official of Wal-Mart China.

"Employees who insisted on working for Wal-Mart at the same store would keep their positions and their salaries would be unchanged."

Chen said the company will continue pushing forward the program, denying former media reports that the program had been halted.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality [CFP]
A Wal-Mart Supercenter in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality [CFP]

It is not known how many Wal-Mart employees have been affected by the restructure, which the company claims will "support robust growth in China", but has been viewed as a mass sacking of staff.

Despite the global economic slump, Wal-Mart opened 23 new stores in China this year.

Industry insiders said Wal-Mart was overstaffed because it had been set up with a five-tier management system, instead of the normal four layers.

Constance Thomas, director of International Labor Organization (ILO) Office for China and Mongolia, said she hoped Wal-Mart would negotiate with the union and make appropriate arrangements for employees affected by the company's "adjustment".

"Sometimes layoffs are necessary, but we should try to limit the number to as little as possible," she said.

(China Daily April 22, 2009)

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