Kroger Company is a large chain with over 2500 stores nationally and internationally. The net income of these stores was around 3.11 billion dollars in 2019. The revenue was 121.2 billion dollars. They are a parent company to a lot of other brands. When such a company with a net worth of billions does something low level like this then what happens?
Monthly income of employees
Employees at Kroger range hourly at approximately 8.80 dollars for a Merchandising Associate and 16.43 dollars for Assistant Store Manager. The average salary yearly ranges from approximately 18,000 dollars for a Cashier and 71,715 dollars for a Store Director. These incomes were calculated before the pandemic started. When the time was hard for people to survive, Kroger decided to reduce payments of the same employees who had worked so hard for this company to reach these billions of net worth.
How COVID-19 Effected people?
COVID-19 took a harsh toll on people in 2020. Many companies went out of business, whilst employees were fired. Many companies decided to reduce the payments of workers, even those who had dedicated their lives to work for these employers. This pandemic took the lives of many loved ones and breadwinners. The medicines and tests for this pandemic are not inexpensive, they take up most of the income percentage. Millions of people died from the Corona Virus in 2020. According to the statistics estimated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is 4.1%.
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Estimate bill for corona treatment
As we all know, the corona is a pandemic and this virus has no vaccine. Therefore, the doctors have been trying their best by giving medicines that seem best for the patients. There are no fixed medications for the treatment of this virus so patients are being given different medicines and injections which end up doubling or tripling the hospital bills. Children and young adults do not have to worry about this virus as they recover efficiently and quickly. COVID-19 itself is not harmful but what it does is bring out older health problems or make you vulnerable to diseases. This effects older people who had undergone treatments in the past.
Return of emergency payment
Kroger asked its employees to repay the amount they were given as COVID-19 relief fund. Their Facebook post stated that employees were to repay in installments of 3 or 5. If anyone failed to pay back, it would result in a collection payment. These installments were said to be taken out of their upcoming paychecks. A form was sent to the employees that stated the acceptance of overpayment. The company received a lot of backlash upon this letter they posted so later they decided to alter their plan.
Kroger’s Altered Plan
The altered plan for taking back the overpayment was later spoken about with the Cincinnati Enquirer. Formerly the management has said that they will pay extra money to a small number of people without any details. Later the spokeswoman told the enquirer that only the employees affected would receive this emergency payment without any means of repayment. The officials then acknowledged this is as an unfortunate accounting payroll error.
Appraisal of employees
Kroger praised its employees for their heroic work. When times were tough, these employees put their lives at risk to serve the customers. UFCW estimated that at least 65 employees at Kroger and other retailers lost the battle to COVID-19. The number of employees exposed or infected was about 9,810.
‘Thank you’ payment to employees
Kroger had decided to pay the employees some extra payment as a thank you for their bravery. The payment was paid in June. This was announced a few days after they had asked for repayment. This payment was a one-time payment of 400 dollars for full-time associates and 200 dollars for part-time associates.
Protest by Kroger employees
Kroger employees protested in West Virginia in Charleston on McCorkle Avenue SE in Beckley and Parkesburg. Several other protests have been joined by United Food and Commercial Workers Union. This protest was taken seriously by the management, fortunately. The protestors said that they do not care about working in this pandemic as this is what they signed up for. What hurts the most is when the company you work for does not care about the health of its employees. Workers were happy enough to serve the community if they were appreciated enough as a result.
Kroger’s response to the protest
After this protest, Kroger stated that they will be taking care of the employees by shifting them to their company health care plan. They said their goal is to achieve the best most formidable plan for their associates and stores. They offered associates and their families with secure health care. They also said in this statement that their priority, for now, is to provide both employees and customers a safe environment. They are efficiently working to restock shelves with fresh food and products. In this statement, they appreciated the frontline employees as well. They did not miss the chance to mention the 830 million dollars they paid to employees for bonuses. They gave them a $100 store credit with 1000 fuel points. Kroger stated that they will continue to listen to the employees while trying to make the best plans for their associates. They will continue to execute safety measures as well. They have secured a fund of 15 million dollars for the employees who are affected by COVID-19.
Were the employees satisfied?
Needless to say, employees were not completely satisfied with this initiative taken by Kroger. The payments were being given to those affected by the pandemic only. Employees asked for bonus payments as other family members could have been let off by their employers. Many workers took this matter to social media, making posts and tweets against the company. This raised outrage among the workers, as also becoming a topic of debate for others. In my opinion, Kroger should have increased the hourly wages even if by 2 dollars as was initially decided.
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