FIRST PERSON GAO ZHI Ex-employees deserve fair compensation
Editor’s note: Gao Zhi (an alias), 34, has worked for WalMart for 13 years and at the Changde branch for five years. He would not identify himself for fear of legal disputes with Wal-Mart as he signed an agreement for compensation with the company that says he will get payment on the condition he keep the agreement secret.
Isigned the compensation contract on March 13 but soon regretted doing so. Now I’m working with our trade union to fight for our rights.
The regional human resources manager in Changsha gave me two choices: relocate to the provincial capital without a pay raise or leave the company with the compensation they set for us. There was no room for bargaining.
Rent costs are much higher in Changsha than in Changde, and my oldest child would have to be left behind for school. So my living expense would rise considerably if I were to go to work in Changsha. It just wouldn’t work out if I wasn’t going to get higher pay.
Leaving with the compensation seemed to be my only choice. From the proposed plan, I would get compensation equal to 14 months of pay. The HR people asked me to make a decision immediately as they said the compensation would not be that much if I delayed.
I felt cheated because WalMart later sent money to the accounts of every employee at the Changde store whether they had accepted their compensation plan or not.
I’ve been the sole breadwinner for my family with two children aged 1 and 6, and my wife has no job due to poor health.
Taking the set compensation and looking for another job as a sacked Wal-Mart employee has also turned out to be a challenge.
It is difficult to find a job as a middle-aged man. I’m experienced in sales, but if I admit that I used to work at Wal-Mart, people say, “Oh, you’re from that failed supermarket”. It gives people a bad impression.
I loved working at WalMart for the steady paycheck. I have committed 13 years to their different stores in Hunan and Guangdong provinces, including five years at the Changde outlet. Basically, I’ve devoted the best years of my life to the company.
We employees are not greedy but just want WalMart to give us fairer compensation, which we deserve. Gao was talking to China Daily reporter He Dan.