Walmart workers paid ‘poverty-level wages’
Washington: As tens of thousands of Walmart workers around the US plan strikes and other labor actions at as many as 1,000 stores next week on Black Friday over ‘meager wages’, a new internal company document details as to why many of the firm’s workers are still struggling to pay their bills and fighting bankruptcy.
The document, titled "Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan Fiscal Year 2013” details a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.
One such case is of Lisa, who started working at a deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois 2 years ago. Despite one raise, she earns just 9.10 dollars an hour, or about 13,000 dollars a year on part-time hours. And now, seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy.
“I don’t have underwear without holes in them. Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks,” The Huffington Post quoted Lisa, as saying.
According to the paper, the company website declares that "a job at Walmart opens the door to a better life" and "the chance to grow and build a career."
But interviews with 31 hourly workers and one former store manager reveal lives beset by paychecks too small to handle the bills, difficult to manage part-time schedules with hours subject to constant change, and little reason to hope for career advancement, the paper said.
Longtime workers are especially hard hit by another aspect of the hourly wage structure: pay caps. Wages are capped at a certain level by grade, regardless of good performance, the paper added.
A 40-year-old associate who has worked at Walmart almost half her life now earns 19.53 dollars an hour, a relatively hefty wage for an hourly employee, but also the most she can ever hope for, given that she has already hit the cap.
"After 19 years in retail, I guess what I make is ok. But if I stay with this company until I retire I could be making the same wage for the next 25 years,” she said.
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