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  HOME | Chile

Chilean Public Employees End Strike

SANTIAGO – Representatives of Chile’s public employees announced Thursday the end of a nearly month-long strike that failed in its aim of persuading the government to offer a larger pay increase.

“The process of mobilization is deemed over,” negotiating committee chair Carlos Insunza told a press conference.

He thanked the workers who joined the strike and criticized the center-left government of President Michelle Bachelet for refusing to budge from its initial proposal of a 3.2 percent raise.

The 15 unions represented by the committee started by asking for a 7 percent raise only to scale back their demands to a hike of 4 percent.

The unions decided to end the walkout after Congress approved the administration bill mandating the 3.2 percent increase.

Many lawmakers from the governing coalition balked at the proposal, which failed twice before finally passing with support from opposition members.

The most visible impact of the strike is in the form of the tens of thousands of tons of garbage piled up on the streets of communities across Chile, including central Santiago.

More seriously, the work stoppage forced public hospitals to postpone more than 6,000 surgical procedures.

Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes, seen by the workers as the face of government intransigence, said the administration could not give the public employees more “because we have other priorities as a country.”

The 3.2 percent raise for public employees will cost the government around $860 million.

To mark the end of the mobilization, hundreds of government workers gathered outside the presidential palace for a raucous protest.

 

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