Four months after raising pay for some of its employees, retail giant Walmart is cutting some workers’ hours to keep costs down.
According to Fox 6 Now, Walmart raised the pay of 500,000 full-time and part-time employees in April to at least $9 per hour. This change was expected to cost the company about $1 billion per year.
Groups that have been advocating for Walmart to improve working conditions and salaries were disappointed to hear about the reduced hours. Making Change at Walmart voiced concern on Facebook.
Bloomburg Business News reported that the announcement of trimmed hours was made at Walmart’s annual holiday planning meeting. Some employees are already being asked to take longer lunches or end their shifts early.
Walmart’s earnings were not as high as investors had hoped last quarter. The increased spending on higher wages for workers cut into the size of profits. Walmart is reluctant to raise prices of goods because it wants to stay competitive with similar retail stores.
Walmart, however, says the cuts are not related to the higher labor costs incurred to pay $9 per hour. Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg was quoted by CNNMoney via WCVB.
“We have a small number of stores that were significantly over on scheduling and they are working to come more into line with the hours that they have had available all year.”
Walmart says that the hours are being cut at only a small number of its stores. Some employees spoke with Bloomberg Business News and described a sizable set of hours reductions in their local Walmart stores. In Fort Worth, Texas, for example, workers were told that the employees’ schedules would need to be cut by 1,500 hours. Some workers were asked to stay late in the early part of one week, and then had to take two-hour unpaid lunches to make up for the extra paid hours.
Jessica Levin, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union’s spokesperson, expressed the dismay and disillusionment that some Walmart workers felt on hearing the news.
“We now have further evidence that Walmart’s so-called ‘wage increase’ was nothing more than a cruel PR stunt. Hard-working Walmart workers — many of whom did not even see a raise in pay — are having their hours cut all so Walmart can pad its bottom line.”
Walmart employees are voicing their displeasure with the cuts on social media. When a huge employer like Walmart cuts hours, it can have a big effect on local economies.
[Photo by J.D. Pooley / Getty Images]