Chile: government workers strike

Some 400,000 Chilean public employees staged a two-day strike on Nov. 11 and 12 to push for a 14.5% pay increase. The National Association of Government Employees (ANEF), which includes 15 unions and associations, said the job action was 90% effective, with professors, health workers, administrative workers and municipal workers honoring the strike call. Government service offices were closed, garbage collection stopped in some areas, and some medical services were shut down. The government of Socialist president Michelle Bachelet called the protest “blackmail”; Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma said workers wouldn’t be paid for the two days they missed.

“We’re not about to pay for the effects of the financial crisis,” ANEF president Raul de la Puente said, noting that inflation would eat up most of the raise. Chile’s inflation rate reached 0.9% in October, bringing the projected annual rate to 9.9%, the highest since 1994. On Nov. 13 the government offered an increase of 5%, raising the offer to 6.5% on Nov. 14. The unions responded with a call for an open-ended strike to start on Nov. 17. (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 12; Servicio Informativo “alai amlatino,” Nov. 12; Agence France Presse, Nov. 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 16

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