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DHL Chile workers fight layoffs

22 Apr 2016
DHL workers in Chile have staged nationwide protests in support of their colleagues who have been laid off by the logistics giant.

Forty-two workers were dismissed between October 2015 and April 2016 from a distribution centre that DHL runs for the Walmart-owned supermarket Ekono.

The DHL No 1 Union was told by DHL that it would try to redeploy the workers, but instead it fired them even though it is taking on staff in other areas.

Last week 300 union activists and DHL workers held protests at supermarkets across Chile demanding that the staff be reinstated.

The union claims that by not redeploying the staff DHL was retaliating for the ITF’s Breaking The Code report in March 2016, which exposed labour abuses by DHL in Chile, Panama and Colombia.

Fabian Veas, president of DHL No 1 Union, cites the examples of union member Jose Luis Valenzuela: “Jose Luis had a heart attack and was replaced by a temporary worker. When he was ready to return to work he couldn’t because they had fired him. They should have kept Jose Luis because he was the most experienced worker.”

After the protests DHL management told the union that it would reexamine the case of Jose Luis Valenzuela, but not the other workers. It said the job losses were to cut costs because Walmart had closed some Ekono branches.

Antonio Fritz, ITF regional secretary in Latin America, expressed concerned about the accusations of more anti-union behaviour by DHL in Latin America. He said the ITF would always support its unions in challenging the decisions of big companies like DHL when they negatively affect workers jobs.

He added that social dialogue should always be the rule and looked forward to DHL engaging in proper negotiations with the union. 

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