Chinese workers reject Walmart's offer in labor dispute

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Walmart employees in central China's Hunan Province have voted against a mediation plan by the world's largest retailer over a labor dispute.

In an out-of-court settlement, Walmart planned to offer each worker 3,000 yuan (480 U.S. dollars) in the name of legal costs after a two-day arbitration.

"In our understanding, they (Walmart) have offered 3,000 yuan as a compensation for our laid-off colleagues' efforts to seek legal assistance. But we didn't feel respected," Huang Xingguo, the labor union chairman at Walmart's Changde store, told Xinhua on Sunday.

The dispute arose after Walmart announced on March 5 that it would close its store in the city of Changde on March 19 with promised job transfers and compensation for dismissals.

The staff and labor union at the Walmart outlet said the company's action was an illegal termination of labor contracts as the employer did not notify them 30 days prior to the closure and also did not consult with them over the pay-off plan.

Over the past three months, dozens of workers have blocked the entrance to the store 24 hours a day in three shifts, preventing the employer from transferring goods and materials.

On April 25, 69 workers and the labor union filed for arbitration over the labor dispute. The arbitration case was heard on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Changde arbitration committee for labor disputes and the two sides agreed to reach an out-of-court settlement.

"As employees, we can understand Walmart's difficulties. After all, the store was closed. And we are ready for further negotiation," said Huang.

Walmart declined to comment on the latest rejection by the workers.

But Davis Lee, the regional public relations director of Walmart China, told Xinhua in an email on Wednesday that Walmart "would handle the case strictly abiding to the Labor Law" and promised "full respect of the employees' rights."

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