Nearly half a million Wal-Mart workers found out they were getting a pay rise today, as chief executive Doug McMillon moved to reassure them of their value to the company.
The retail giant, which owns Asda in the UK, will be giving pay rises to around 500,000 full and part-time staff throughout the US taking hourly wages at least $1.75 above America's minimum wage.
Entry level wages are being raised to $9 an huor from April, and all current “associates” will earn at least $10 an hour, McMillon confirmed in an open letter.
Wal-Mart is also launching a programme so each member of staff will receive six months of skills-based training. The starting salary for department manager roles is being increased to at least $13 an hour from this summer, rising to $15 an hour next year.
“There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart,” McMillon said in his letter.
The letter explained how important each member of staff was to the overall company:
After all, we’re all associates. We have different roles at different times in our career and every one of them is important. Today’s cashiers will be tomorrow’s store or club managers. Today’s managers are tomorrow’s vice presidents. Tomorrow’s CEO will almost definitely come from inside our company.
During our recent Walmart U.S. year beginning meeting, I asked all of those in the arena, more than 7,000 people, to stand if they started their Walmart career in an hourly role. It felt like almost everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. It made the word opportunity real.
The changes announced today are part of a package of improvements the US business is planning, which will bring about “comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure”. McMillon said “these changes will be sustainable over the long term”.
As important as a starting wage is, what’s even more important is opportunity, and we’ll continue to provide that ladder that any of you can climb. If you work hard, develop new skills and care for others, there should be no limit to what you can do here. That’s what makes this place special. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And I want nothing more than for every Walmart associate today to feel that same connection to the company that I feel and to have the same opportunities I’ve had.
Watch McMillon speaking to staff in the video below: