Some 17,000 unionized workers across Chile went on strike against Walmart July 10. It is “the largest private sector strike in decades” in the country, Telesur TV News reported.
The strike vote was organized June 25-27 by Sindicato Interempresa Líder (SIL), the trade union that organizes Walmart workers in Chile. Walmart owns some 375 stores run by supermarket chains Líder, Hiper Líder, Express de Líder, Ekono, aCuenta and Central Mayorista. The strike has closed down 130 of the stores, and 100 more are only open half days.
Walmart bosses are pushing to introduce more automation, with speedup and job cuts. For example, the installment of automatic cash registers has already forced cashiers to take on more work restocking shelves. Some 3,000 layoffs are imminent, while workers are demanding transfers to other jobs.
The workers are demanding a 4% wage increase. They voted down the company’s offer of 3% with a $72 bonus.
“We do not agree with all the automation, with everything they want us to do,” Jimena Gabiola, a cashier, told Telesur. “Our salaries are very low, and what they offer us is very little.”