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Chile: National Port Workers' Strike, 15-16 February

category bolivia / peru / ecuador / chile | workplace struggles | press release author Saturday February 11, 2012 02:46author by Unión Portuaria de Chile Report this post to the editors

Public statement by the Unión Portuaria de Chile explaining the reasons for the national strike on 15 and 16 February. [Castellano]

Chile: National Port Workers' Strike, 15-16 February

Public statement by the Unión Portuaria de Chile explaining the reasons for the national strike on 15 and 16 February.

1. On 30 January 2012, the Unión Portuaria de Chile, an organization which has a large membership throughout the country, successfully paralyzed the ports of Arica, Iquique, Mejillones Antofagasta, Chañaral, Caldera, Huasco, Coquimbo, Lirquén, CAP, San Vicente, Schwager and Coronel for three hours, as a warning to the Government of Chile to resolve the conflict sparked off by the State's expropriation of part of the dockers' pay via an arbitrary deduction of income tax, and as a response to need to create a Social Protection Network for workers in the ports of Talcahuano, Coquimbo and Arica for the Tender for these Port Terminals.

2. Despite the large mobilization and the heavy economic losses for the mineral and timber exporter monopolies, the Government ignored the just demands of Chile's dockers, to date no meeting has been agreed nor has there been any serious response by the authorities to the need to find a solution to the conflict.

3. This particular situation has forced us to take the drastic step of paralyzing exports from the country for 48 hours on 15 and 16 February 2012, and to point out that if a satisfactory response to our demands is not forthcoming, we cannot rule out a call for an indefinite nationwide shutdown.

4. We call on all port workers to stay on the alert and be prepared for this 48-hour strike. We call on all workers, students and the people of Chile to show their solidarity with this struggle, to help spread news of the strike and be close to the ports during these days.

The struggle to end injustice in this country has just begun.

¡Arriba los que luchan!

We will win!

Unión Portuaria de Chile

Translation by FdCA-International Relations Office.

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author by Kevin S. - WSA (corresponding secretary), IWW (personal capacity)publication date Tue Feb 14, 2012 05:36author email wsa.corresponding.secretary at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Hey comrades, working class solidarity from the North America. Please keep us informed of how this develops and anything we might do from a distance.

Kevin S.

author by Carlos Vega - La Naciónpublication date Fri Feb 17, 2012 18:25Report this post to the editors

With a two-day strike, port workers prevented the movement of exports and imports of sectors such as minerals, fishing, fruit and forestry. The demonstration is intended to get the Government to refund second-rate taxes levied over 30 years (from 1981 to 2010) on casual workers.

They are also demanding compensation and pensions for workers who will be affected by the tendering of the ports of Talcahuano and Coquimbo, for 30 workers fired in Arica, and for the creation of an insurance fund against catastrophies.

In this regard, Robinson Ávalos, national spokesman for the Unión Portuaria de Chile said that "it is not our intention to harm entrepreneurs or the economy. This has to go on; if we are driven to this it is because the Government is so intransigent" in managing the demands, and indeed have already told the dockers that will resort to the courts.

He stressed that "the industrialist Leonardo Farkas, owner of several cargo ships in the port of Caldera was so affected by the strike that he sent a letter to the government in an attempt to get them to deal with the conflict and called on them to listen to the workers".

For his part, José Agurto, leader of the Unión Portuaria del Biobío said that "we are hitting the country's economy, closing access to the ports. We are demanding our money and I can't understand why they are so firm on refusing. It's something which is our right and we are willing to talk".

The extent of the strike

This Wednesday at 8.00 am, more than 8,000 workers launched the national dockers' strike in the North (Iquique, Mejillones, Tocopilla, Chañaral, Caldera, Huasco, Coquimbo), in all the Biobío ports (Muelle CAP, Schwager, Talcahuano, San Vicente, Lirquén, Penco, Coronel) and in Puerto Montt.

Also in Valparaíso and San Antonio there were demonstrations in support, as the dockers did not join the strike for fear of reprisals and dismissals. In Iquique, Valparaíso, Concepción and Santiago, students held demonstrations in support of the union demands. Meanwhile on Thursday, workers in Arica and Antofagasta joined in.

Ávalos said that "80% of the ports in the country are paralyzed. The response has been good, but it will not be a success if the government does not call for dialogue, as we will only be forced into a still greater showdown". He added that "on 24th and 25th in Coquimbo, there will be an international congress. If no response is forthcoming, it is likely that we will coordinate an indefinite strike on that occasion in order to make another call to the authorities".

Meanwhile, Pedro Riquelme, spokesman for the Colonel dockers, stressed that "unless we have a solution to our demands we will fight to the end and will not rule out adopting a more radical stance in March". He said that "the demands of the workers must come together - that is why today we have created an export council made ​​up of fishing, mining, forestry and port workers' unions".

Translation by FdCA-International Relations Office

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author by La Batalla de los Trabajadorespublication date Fri Feb 17, 2012 18:41Report this post to the editors

Student and trade-union leaders held a press conference in support of the National Dockers' Strike on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February.

Among the participants were Felipe Ramirez, General Secretary of the FECH, who emphasized the need to unite the students' demands with those of other social sectors, such as workers.

Manuel Diaz, President of the Federation of Wall-Mart Employees (a trade-union federation that brings together around 8,000 workers around the country), expressed support for the demands of the dockers and also pointed out that this is the beginning a year of protests by workers. He also pointed out several laws that undermine the union struggles such as the Hinzpeter law [a law that will make public demonstrations much more difficult], the labour code, and the recent Supreme Court ruling on the legality of hiring external workers in retail with contracts for short-term jobs and projects, a fact that is detrimental to the minimum guarantees that entitle workers to organize and bargain collectively.

There was also support from the President of the Federation of Teaching Students, Yoxcy Campos, and the spokesmen of the Metropolitan Coordination of Secondary Students (ACES), Carla Díaz and Maximiliano Salas, as well as Rafael Torres from the Sindicato Nacional Jumbo union.

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

A short video report of the press conference (in Spanish):

Embedded Video Description: Press Conference with Felipe Ramirez, Manuel Diaz and others

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author by mitchpublication date Sat Apr 07, 2012 13:30Report this post to the editors

I'm wondering what sort of post strike stuff has been happeing...the outcome of the strike, the work of our comrades and so forth.

author by Manu Garcíapublication date Fri Apr 13, 2012 08:13Report this post to the editors

Hi Mitch,

You can find more information here: I don´t know if a machine translation can help a bit to understand... Any way, the important thing is that there was some weeks ago a very important Congress of the dockworkers where the unity of the sector increased. One of the main driving force is the Union Portuaria del Bio Bio, the dockworkers union from the region of Concepcion, where the libertarians are putting big efforts.

The workers who met in the Congress agreed to press for their demands (economical and social ones) against the government and the bosses. In that sense, they went to the capital city, Santiago, to give a letter to the government informing about their demands, but they did not receive an answer So they are going to valore new mobilisations like the February ones. The Internal Affairs Department of the government is alerting about these facts, here is a new taken from a right-wing diary:

author by mitchpublication date Mon Apr 16, 2012 23:55Report this post to the editors

Thanks Manu for the links on this.

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