Walmart has announced plans to raise wages for more than 500,000 hourly employees at its US stores.
America’s largest private employer said that it would raise salaries for 40% of its staff, as well as increasing its base hourly wage to $9 – $1.75 above the US minimum wage.
By February 1 2016, all current workers will earn at least $10 per hour.
The retail giant has recently been under pressure from labor groups.
In a blog post to workers, the retailer’s chief executive Doug McMillon acknowledged that a tough economic environment combined with shifting consumers habits had made Walmart institute some changes, which could have been detrimental to workers.
“We … made a few changes aimed at productivity and efficiency that undermined the feeling of ownership some of you have for your business,” Doug McMillon wrote.
“When we take a step back, it’s clear to me that one of our highest priorities must be to invest more in our people this year.”
Walmart shares fell 2.8% in early trading on news of the employee program.
A coalition of workers known as OUR Walmart – which is backed by traditional US labor unions – have been staging one-day strikes over the past two years demanding the retailer raise wages and improve its scheduling for workers, among other concerns.
Emily Wells, one of the leaders of OUR Walmart and a Walmart employee earning $9.50 per hour in Florida, said in a statement: “We are so proud that by standing together we won raises for 500,000 Walmart workers, whose families desperately need better pay and regular hours from the company we make billions for.”
In addition to raising the base wage for many workers, Walmart also said it would increase the wages paid to supervisors, as well as work to find ways to be able to schedule worker shifts further in advance.
It also said it would invest in worker training programs, to encourage Walmart employees to advance within the organization.
According to the Associated Press, with the wage changes, the average wage for a full-time worker at Walmart will rise to $13 per hour from $12.85, and $10 per hour from $9.48 per hour for a part-time worker.
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