[Marxism] Chile: DOCKWORKERS’ STRIKE / The Bosses break off talks
Juan Andres Gallardo
juanagallardo at gmail.com
Sun Jan 26 17:20:34 MST 2014
DOCKWORKERS’ STRIKEChile: The Bosses break off talks26/01/2014 For a
national stoppage of all workers · For an open National Strike Committee
- FOTOS *(2)*
*Thirty days ago workers at the port of Angamos, in Mejillones, in the
north of the country, began a heroic strike for the recognition rights of
temporary workers (“eventuales”), who are excluded by law from agreements
between the employer and the union. Fifteen days ago, workers at the port
of San Antonio, on Chile’s central coast, joined the strike. They are
demanding full back pay from 2005 to 2013 for their half hour meal break
(“colación”), a right they finally won in 2013 but the company still does
not recognize. The strikers’ just demands have unleashed a flood of
solidarity stoppages by workers in other ports in the north and south of
the country. The stubbornness of the stevedoring bosses, that now counts on
the support of the State and its repression and intimidation of the
workers, has been met with the determination of the dockworkers, the
sympathy of other sectors of workers and important support from sectors of
youth, such as the university students who have taken part in years of
struggle for free, quality public education. The strength of this strike
from one of the fundamental battalions of the Chilean proletariat has
stopped the bourgeois stevedores, mine operators and fruit and other
exporters in their tracks; the combativity of the dockworkers has tended to
overcome the limits imposed by the bureaucratic union leaderships, even
though they have been able to so far ignore the strikers’ central demands,
such as the recognition of the “eventuales” in Mejillones. The State has
been forced to intervene and call for a round of negotiations, having to
give recognition to strikes that have been deemed illegal by the
pro-employer justice system. At the close of this edition, negotiations
have fallen through due to the refusal of the stevedoring bosses to
negotiate with the strikers. The bosses are insisting on the illegal
character of the strikes and demanding that they end before any talks
begin. We reproduce below the statement, written before this new display of
intransigence by the port bosses, from our comrades of the PTR, who have
actively intervened in the conflict. For coverage of this important
struggle, visit www.prt.cl <http://www.prt.cl/>*
On Wednesday 22, the Labour Ministry held a tripartite roundtable meeting
with the Government, the leaders of the Unión Portuaria (Dockworkers’
Union) and the bosses. The Government, which had previously refused to
summon such a meeting, has relented in the face of the strength of the
strikes - 18 paralyzed ports, shut down for 30 days in the case of
Mejillones and for more than 15 days in San Antonio and the rest of the
They want the workers to negotiate on their knees
That afternoon, the bosses announced that they would break off talks: “As a
country we cannot allow a small group of people to give validity to the use
of such pressure to impose their demands”, they declared. But the workers
are maintaining their strikes and their mobilizations. With this strength,
they have forced their way to the negotiating table.
But now the bosses are hardening their stance, for they cannot reach their
goal without imposing a de facto state of siege in the ports to break the
strike, and they have not achieved this yet. But that is what they want to
The Triple Alliance against the workers: the boss class closes ranks
First of all the Government, which has already sent in the Special Forces
to repress the dockworkers, now persecutes them with legal actions,
criminalization, threats and blackmail.
Second, the owners and bosses, grouped in their associations such as the
Society for Industry Development (SOFAFA) and the Confederation of
Production and Commerce (CPC), complained at the start of the meeting that
all the meeting would do is “legitimize” the strike.
Their media describe the situation as a “no man’s land” and demand an end
to the stoppage. They try to turn public opinion against the workers and
create a climate that is against this legitimate strike.
They are closing ranks to move to a new attack.
The workers need to redouble their forces.
Unite the ranks of the working class
This is the time to demand that the CUT [Central Unitaria de Trabajadores
de Chile, the main Chilean union federation], the national union
federations and union branches, take a step forward to unity in struggle.
Leaving aside our differences, we must come together under the banners of
the dockworkers’ strike, their just demands, and for the repeal of the
Labour Code of the dictatorship that is still in force.
The CUT leadership until now has not lifted a finger. It must call for a
National Strike Committee open to union branches, assembly delegates,
student and popular organizations, and the left.
In Antofagasta, the strike camp should send delegates to the regional CUT,
the Miners’ Federation, the Copper Workers’ Confederation (CTC) and all the
unions of Codelco [the state owned copper mining company], the public
sector and other industries, and call for a meeting of leaders that
convenes an open Regional Strike Committee that completely shuts down the
region, as a first step towards a national stoppage of all the working
For the unity of the working class under the banners of the dockworkers’
For full back pay, no negotiation without the “eventuales”!
Down with the Labour Code of the dictatorship!
For the establishment of an open National Strike Committee!
For a stoppage of all workers in the Antofagasta region, as a first step
towards a national stoppage of the working class!
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