Miércoles 10 julio de 2019 | Publicado a las 09:16 · Actualizado a las 10:57
Automation fuels walkout at Walmart Chile, the country’s largest private strike in history

After weeks of negotiation, and the State’s unsuccessful mediation, 91% of the 17 thousand members of Walmart Chile’s union voted for a walkout that started this Wednesday, at midnight.

It is the country’s largest private strike in history and it will affect operations in around 150 stores. Some might not even open, workers assured.

They asked clients to understand their problems and appealed to those who are workers like them and also “go through tough times in their workplaces”.

One of the most pressing issues for workers relates to the dangers they see in automation.

They affirm the company is replacing them with machines given the implementation of self-checkout and the improvement of online platforms.

“We do not want automation to produce massive layoffs”, Lider’s Inter-Company Union (SIL) president, Juan Moreno, said in May, when the main points of the negotation were presented.

“Every day, we live with the threat of redundancy, of robot replacement (…). The company is replacing us so clients do our job. We are certain they are not aware of that”, the union stated.

The need for better work conditions was also a part of the talks alongside pay raises and transport bonuses.

The strike received the full support of the Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT in Spanish) and its secretary general, Nolberto D√≠az.

“They are asking a legitimate compensation for their work and for the changes that lie ahead. Unions do not oppose change, but change needs to occur with respect to the workers, with fairness”, D√≠az said.

In the proposal rejected by the workers, Walmart Chile offered salary increments, an additional raise regarding “multifunctionality”, a bonus to mark the end of the conflict, monetary contributions to the union and funding for training the staff who will need to execute new tasks.

“Walmart Chile laments this decision as the company worked towards reaching an agreement. It is important to highlight that Walmart Chile presented a robust offer that considered all the topics discussed during this negotiation”, they said on a statement issued Tuesday.

In the same statement, they announced a contingency plan, but failed to provide any details of the measure, and that shoppers will be informed about the alternatives available.

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