Chile fines, blacklists Starbucks, Wal-Mart over labor practices
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's labor department has blacklisted Starbucks (SBUX.O) and Wal-Mart (WMT.N) local units over labor practices, preventing them from bidding to supply local government offices for two years, a department official said.
The blacklist of 36 companies published by the labor department said Starbucks Coffee Chile was fined around $25,000 for what it calls "discrimination against unions" and "bad faith in collective negotiations".
Supermarket chain Hipermercados Lider, which Wal-Mart controls, was fined around $4,167 for "not paying a replacement worker bonus".
"Four companies have repeated their conduct within the last three years ... (including) Hipermercados Lider and Starbucks Coffee Chile SA," the department said in a statement posted on its Web site.
It said Starbucks had been levied the highest fine by the courts for a second time.
Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said the company has not had Chilean government contracts in the past and does not plan to have them in the future, so the report does not have an impact on its business in Chile.
When asked if it will hurt the company's reputation, he said: "We're proud of the work environment we've created. He added the company "recognizes and respects" its employees rights to belong to unions.
Last year, Starbucks was hit by its first strike at a company-owned store, with workers in Chile seeking pay that keeps up with inflation, a $100 monthly lunch stipend, as well as other benefits. Workers said they abandoned the strike without reaching an agreement with the company.
Wal-Mart said it was committed to "strict compliance with labor law". "The cited cases correspond to specific situations that occurred before 2008 and whose court judgments have become known recently," Wal-Mart said in a statement.
(With reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Jessica Wohl and Brad Dorfman in Chicago; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Michael Perry)
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