Walmart Chile will resume talks with workers after widespread strikes over robot push

Walmart Chile on Monday said it would resume talks with a union of 17,000 workers who walked off their jobs last week in protest over the retailer’s push to automate jobs and cut costs.

The industrial action closed around a fourth of 400 stores, with striking workers on indefinite leave after labor talks failed between Walmart and their union.

As many as 124 of the retailer’s 375 stores closed last week, as workers battle for compensation as increased automation in stores has meant they are now required to perform more tasks than before. 

READ MORE: Women to be hit hardest by automation

Walmart initially offered a 3 per cent real wage increase and a one-time payment of $72, while the union asked for a 4 per cent salary rise. Walmart says that it later increased the offer to as much as 8.14 per cent but that union leader Juan Moreno refused to discuss the offer.

Speaking last week on the Pauta Bloomberg radio show, Walmart Chile Vice President of Human Resources Monica Tobar said the push for automation “isn’t Walmart’s idea, it’s the way our clients have decided to shop”.

“The world is going through a digital transformation and we need to be a part of that,” added Tobar.

On Monday, Walmart said in a statement that it hoped to continue with constructive dialogue but said it also worried about “the illegal blockades of outlets that have occurred throughout the strike.”

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