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B.C. Walmart worker speaks out about end of pandemic pay boost

The employee says he and other employees at his store feel they should still be receiving the extra $2 an hour because the pandemic is still a threat.
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A B.C. Walmart employee says he and other employees at his store feel they should still be receiving the extra $2 an hour because the pandemic is still a threat. Photo: Contributed

A B.C. Walmart employee is speaking out about what he feels are unfair practices at the retailer.

The employee, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, says he started working at the West Kelowna Walmart in March when the pandemic was just starting.

"All the stores were super busy, I know Walmart and Real Canadian Superstore started paying their employees $2 extra, for three months which I believe was an incentive so that people would continue working because I know lots of other people were living off of CERB (The Canada Emergency Response Benefit)."

Stores like Walmart and the Real Canadian Superstore discontinued the pandemic pay in mid-June.  

The employee says he and other employees at his store feel they should still be receiving the extra $2 an hour because the pandemic is still a threat. Walmart just instituted a mask policy for all of its customers and employees on Wednesday.

"Why do we have to wear masks, run the risk of being infected and we are not getting any sort of compensation or hazard pay? I don't think that's fair and I know there are other workers who feel this way."

The employee says he and other workers are frustrated and feel like they have no recourse: "We feel furious and there is nothing we can do. Like always nothing we can do."

Castanet spoke with a duty manager at Walmart about the allegations.

"As far as an associate reaching out to you, we are unaware of that," the manager said. "Obviously and we're not going to comment. You should reach out to our media relations department in Toronto."

Felicia Fefer Manager, Walmart Corporate Affairs, says "we are so proud of everything our associates are continuing to do every day to support our customers and each other. They are truly showing the Walmart spirit by rising to the challenge in these unprecedented times."

Fefer also indicates that Walmart is taking measures to ensure the well-being of its customers and associates. 

Which she indicates include: 

  • Starting August 12, 2020, we are now requiring all customers and associates working in any Walmart store not already subject to a local government mandate to wear a mask or face covering in areas of our stores accessible to the public.   
  • Increased cleaning throughout our stores.
  • Wellness checks that include a temperature check for all associates at the start of each shift. 
  • Limiting the number of customers shopping in the stores at one time. 
  • Cleaning shopping carts. 
  • Encouraging regular handwashing.
  • Regular cleaning of work areas (including checkouts).
  • Installing plexi-glass dividers at registers, customer service desks and in our pharmacies. 
  • Introducing floor markings and one-way aisles to create physical distancing. 

Fefer also indicates that Walmart accelerated $16 million in bonus payments for hourly associates.

"Hourly associate bonuses are typically paid out in one payment following the store’s yearly performance. In addition, we are offering multiple enhanced discount days throughout the summer, where associates can enjoy an added discount on their purchases, on top of their existing regular associate discount."

Fefer also says that Walmart provides ongoing access to EQ Care at no cost for all 90,000 associates. According to its website, EQ Care sets the standard for service excellence in virtual health care.

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