Sunday, 19 April 2015

Really Walmart ? Plumbing ??

Walmart closed down five stores in the US. What's new ? This happens all the time - stores are closed and stores are opened. So what ? What is strange is the reason it was done and the manner in which it was done.

Walmart announced to its employees two hours before store closing time on Monday last week that the stores were closing from the next day.  The reason stated was plumbing problems !! That is the most unusual reason you might have heard for stores to close.

Walmart has a history of treating its workers, shall we say, a little less generously than most other businesses. But , even by their standards, this closure is curious. One of the stores that was closed was at the forefront of a strike a couple of years ago.  The whiff, that this was retaliation against the workers is strong. But the other four stores weren't the leaders of the strike - so why these five ? Where the four simply lumped together to deflect the real intention to get at those b%^&*s who dared go on strike ?

Telling people two hours before shift ends that they don't have to come tomorrow does not appear to be a humanly good thing to do. But there is no place for human feelings  in the business world it seems, at least in Walmart. To be fair Walmart is saying that all employees would be paid two months paid leave when they can apply for jobs in other Walmart stores and that if they didn't succeed in two months, the permanent employees would be paid some severance pay.

The ostensible logic for the short notice to employees is that apparently if you give them a longer notice, they would all steal the store blind ! A more "acceptable" reason is  that they don't have to legally do any better.  Is this what employee relations in Walmart have come to ?

The stated reason for closure is urgent and pressing plumbing problems that have to be fixed. Really ??? Nobody the city or amongst the employees seem to have heard of the "ongoing and pervasive" sewer problems before. No permissions have been sought from city councils for any repairs. Its difficult to believe that the emergency closure of stores is really because the loo is leaking.

Even the most charitable view of the issue has to concede that Walmart could have handled the whole thing better. But this is probably a symptom of the real problem - Walmart management does not rank handling employees with care and concern very highly amongst its business priorities. That's a sad commentary on the business world. If one of the largest corporations and employers in the world, treats its employees as impersonally as a pallet of stock, then it is no wonder that they are hated as viciously as they are. The very word corporation has become a four letter word. And by their actions,  corporations are doing their very best to justify that tag.

What a stink !


Sriram Khé said...

I agree with you that it is "a sad commentary on the business world."

Unfortunately, Walmart has become the *only* punching bag all because it employs real people. real as in those we can see, in the communities that we are familiar. Most other corporations deal with such horrible practices (and more) and they are far less on people's minds. My favorite comparison is with Apple. If Americans truly understood how little of the money they hand over to Apple goes to the workers in China, and the looooooong hours those workers put in every week, they will notice that Walmart might be even a tad better--because Walmart stores in the US are governed by OSHA, min wages, and other labor laws.
Yet, Apple is adored, especially by the uber-left activists who almost always seem to use Apple computers and devices! And the left does not question why Apple is not sharing its humongous profits with the labor in China, nor is it protesting in front of Apple's HQ demanding that it pay fair taxes to Uncle Sam!

BTW, this post and the other one in which you agreed with "Red Ed" makes you one heck of a bleeding-heart business guy. Watch out--else, you might end up joining hands and singing Kumbaya with Arundhati Roy ;)

Ramesh said...

Yup - Apple is no saint and gets far less attention, but therein lies the real issue. Walmart's behaviour is in the face - I will screw you and I don't care a shit. Up yours. If you behave in that way, you will get all the punches anybody can throw. Take this case of store closures - it could have been handled easily without any fuss. Instead doing it in the way Walmart has done will bring bad publicity. The real truth is that Walmart simply does not care what anybody else thinks.

Ha Ha. I have a long way to go before I can even tolerate to be within 1000 miles of that awful lady !

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, Apple has one hell of a PR/marketing team ... like the old joke about how Austria has an awesome PR team that convinced the world that Hitler was a German and that Beethoven was Austrian ;)

gils said...

it was a scary news and for a change I read about it before this blog!!! yaay for that..hehe

Ramesh said...

Woo Hoo - you are reading the business section of the paper instead of the movies section. Somebody's effect is showing :):):)

gils said...

newspaperla illa..FBla got it as a shared news :D paperlaam padam paathu kathai koorukaaga mattumay use panrathu..padikrathilla

Appu said...

It becomes much more sad when you think of how Sam Walton wanted his employees to be treated!

Ramesh said...

I am not sure Sam Walton is a reasonable example of an employer wanting to do much for his employees !

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