SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Walmart Chile said on Monday it would resume talks with a union of 17,000 workers who walked off the job last week amid a major push by the global retail giant to automate jobs and slash costs.
The walkout has closed at least one fourth of the approximately 400 stores that Walmart Inc <WMT.N> operates in Chile. Striking workers carrying protest signs have blocked access to many stores around Santiago.
The company 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.”
Lider’s Inter-Company Union (SIL) could not immediately be reached for comment.
Union leaders said the key sticking point was a salary increase. As automation in stores has increasingly replaced workers, workers say they are forced to juggle more tasks among fewer employees. They have demanded the company boost salaries by 4 percent. Walmart Chile has offered 3 percent, the union has said.
The strike has primarily affected Walmart stores under the franchise SuperBodega aCuenta, and, to a lesser extent, Express, Lider and Ekono.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis)