Updated 2:00 PM EDT, Wed, May 20, 2020

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Hunan Walmart Workers Refuse to Accept Settlement Offer on Labor Dispute

Walmart employees at the Changde store branch in China's Hunan province refused to accept a mediation plan that was to pay them CNY3000 each in an out-of-court settlement of a labor dispute.

The proposed payout, which was arrived at after two days of settlement talks, was the retailer’s move to compensate workers who were laid off and were seeking legal assistance.

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Labor union chairman Huang Xingguo told Xinhua that union members felt disrespected by Walmart's CNY3000 offer. 

The labor dispute came about after Walmart announced on March 5 that its Changde store would close on March 19, and promised workers that they would be compensated for their dismissal.

Union members insisted that it was illegal for the company to terminate its workers who were under contract. They said they were not notified 30 days ahead of the planned closure of the Changde branch and that Walmart did not consult with them on the planned compensation.

A large number of workers have been picketing in front of the store in the past three months, taking turns in blocking the entrance 24 hours a day. This has prevented Walmart from moving materials and goods from the store.

A total of 69 workers have filed for arbitration for the labor dispute on April 25. The case was heard on Tuesday and Wednesday and both sides had agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

Huang said the union and other employees understood the difficulties the retailer has incurred, adding that they were ready for advanced negotiations.

Walmart, for its part, refused to comment on the workers' rejection of its settlement offer. However, Walmart China’s public relations director Davis Lee said in an email on Wednesday that the retailer would handle the case strictly and would follow the country’s Labor Law. He promised that compensation would be given with full respect for the rights of its employees.

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