Walmart workers’ union in Chile denounces mass dismissals

The union says that workers are being dismissed for taking part in the strike and announced that it will file a lawsuit against the company for anti-union dismissals

October 04, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
“No more exploitation of labor in Chile” and “No more multifunctionality” read the posters. Photo: SIL/Facebook

The Sindicato Interempresa Líder (SIL), a trade union of Walmart workers in Chile, denounced that the company dismissed more than 400 workers as a reprisal for taking part in the strike carried out in July and collective negotiation processes held in the months of July and August.

Juan Moreno, president of the SIL, reported that only in the month of September more than 400 workers associated with the union have been dismissed throughout the country and that the number of dismissed workers exceeds 1,000 in the last three months. Moreno also said that the majority of dismissed workers had been working with the company for over 5 years and many of them were workers’ leaders in their respectives branches and important representatives of the union.

“The company is setting a negative example for all workers in the country, by carrying out mass and selective dismissals after a period of negotiation and democratic demonstrations of workers, such as the right to strike,” said Moreno.

The lawyer of the workers union, Francisco Díaz, announced that they would soon file a lawsuit for anti-union dismissals against the company.

The SIL is one of the largest trade unions of the country. It brings together more than 17,000 workers, working in over 317 stores of various supermarket chains owned by Walmart, under the brand name of Líder, Hiper Líder, Express de Líder, Ekono, Acuenta and Central Mayorista supermarkets across Chile.

“The SIL is on the streets demanding dignity,” reads the poster. Photo: SIL/Facebook

The 6-day-long strike in July was the largest private sector strike that Chile had seen in years. Due to the strike, about 130 of these supermarkets remained closed, while more than 100 operated for half a day.

The workers had demanded an increase of 4% in salaries for workers who would have to perform multiple tasks working with the machines, as well as the reincorporation of the workers who will be unemployed after the digital transformation of the company. In a collective agreement, an increase of 3.5% was agreed upon and the strike was lifted. In addition, the company also offered to organize training programs for the workers who would be jobless to facilitate their reincorporation into the workforce. A further salary increase of up to 5.1% was reached in August through a new collective negotiation process, after which the series of selective dismissals began.

The vengeful action by Walmart is further evident by their recently released statement, in which the company said that it “has an average monthly turnover of 4%” and that between July and September, the company increased its workforce by around 300 new employees after the opening of a new supermarket chain El Peñón.