August 10, 2012 / 1:55 AM / 6 years ago

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.

Wal-Mart was not immediately available for comment.

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.

(Writing by Simon Gardner)

This story was refiled to correct the size of fines in second and third paragraphs

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