Wednesday, November 13, 2019


An alliance of dockworker, mining sector, construction, education, government employees and other union federations went on strike on Tuesday in support of ongoing protests against the country's political and economic policies. Protests, barricades and road blockades began before dawn in many parts of the country. Mass demonstrations, marches, and blockades were ongoing up and down the length of Chile

The unions presented demands related to wages, pensions, and union organising. The alliance of unions  have proposed 500,000 Chilean pesos ($635) for both the monthly minimum wage, which is currently 301,000 pesos ($386), and the minimum monthly pension payment. The proposals have widespread support But their primary demand is the same collective call uniting protests across Chile: a new constitution, drafted by a constitutional assembly with broad involvement.
"We have never had a constitution with citizen participation before," said Pamela Pasache, a local leader of a Ministry of Education workers' union in Antofagasta, in northern Chile.
People are demanding popular participation in a constitutional assembly to create a new constitutional framework to enact that change, said Alejandro Garcia, a leader of the Antofagasta local of AnfuCultura, a Ministry of Culture workers union. "This is a call for permanent pressure," he said. "We must not relinquish the streets."
"This is not about a union movement, or any one social movement," Eduardo Rojas, an Antofagasta dockworker union leader, told Al Jazeera. "The people of Chile as a whole have taken to the streets to protest. That is why it is massive," he said.  "This is our third work stoppage since protests began," he said. "Ports are paralysed from Arica to Punta Arenas," he said. "Other ports that are not part of the Chilean Dockworkers Union have also joined in. This is going to multiply," he said. "We want to demonstrate that unity is strength."
The International Dockworkers Council warned an international solidarity boycott is on the table. Representing more than 125,000 dockworkers on five continents, the council expressed concern in a statement last week about police violence against Chilean protesters and dockworkers, in particular.
"Should the repression against the dockworker family intensify, we will initiate an international boycott of cargo from ships coming from the Republic of Chile," the council said.
At least 23 people were killed during the first three weeks of the crisis, including five by military and police forces. Thousands of protesters have been detained and wounded, including more than 180 with severe eye injuries from rubber and metal projectiles shot by police.

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