Walmart Chile workers’ union launches strike after talks fail

SANTIAGO (Reuters) -Walmart Chile’s workers union launched a strike on Wednesday, days after negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement failed, the union said in a statement.

The National Federation of Walmart Workers had warned of the strike action last week, saying the local branch of retail giant Walmart “had not been negotiating since the start of the process.”

Union leader Karen Gonzalez told Reuters that on Tuesday, the last day of negotiations, the union had requested a five-day extension but the company gave a “resounding no.”

In a statement, Walmart Chile reported that a total of 75 supermarkets will be closed throughout the strike, 82 will operate partially, and a “contingency and communication plan” will be implemented to assist customers.

“We are convinced that we have made every effort to avoid the strike,” the company said, adding that the union did not offer a counterproposal that would have allowed negotiations to carry on.

The strike began at midnight and involves over 14,000 workers, affecting stores run by Walmart Chile, which include the popular Lider supermarket chain.

In a statement on the union’s Facebook page, the workers – who are demanding inflation adjustments to wages as well as improved benefits – invited customers to shop instead at local stores.

(Reporting by Fabian Andres Cambero; Writing by Stéphanie Hamel; Editing by Sarah Morland)