SANTIAGO – Thousands of workers staged a march in the Chilean capital on Tuesday in support of a proposed labor overhaul that is in trouble after a court ruled one of its key provisions unconstitutional.
Around 6,000 people – according to police – joined a peaceful procession down Santiago’s main thoroughfare, part of a one-day national strike called by the CUT labor federation.
Turnout “far exceeded expectations,” CUT leader Barbara Figueroa said. “I welcome and thank each one of those who participated in this mobilization.”
Though Figueroa declined to cite any figures, CUT sources said some 20,000 people marched in the capital.
The labor reform promoted by the government of President Michelle Bachelet hit a serious obstacle a few weeks ago when Chile’s Constitutional Court, acting on a motion filed by right-wing parties, struck down a provision enshrining the role of unions in collective bargaining.
Tuesday’s march came out of “the anger everyone in the world of labor feels” about the sidelining of the reform bill, CUT secretary Nolberto Diaz said, adding that some pro-government lawmakers joined the rightist opposition to “torpedo” the proposal.
In a speech at the conclusion of the march, Figueroa called on Chilean workers to support the process launched by Bachelet to draft a new constitution that would replace the charter enacted in 1980 under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.