Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary, spoke at a press conference at the Santiago offices of the Chilean trade union centre, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), on 14 March to express support for IndustriALL affiliates and their campaign for labour reform.
During the Chile visit from 14-15 March, Raina visited IndustriALL affiliates, a mining company, and held meetings with the labour and interior ministers. The main objective of the trip was to give support to workers’ demands for labour reform, discuss the country’s industrial policy and encourage the government to sign ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.
“I am here to confirm our support for our Chilean affiliates and the CUT, which are fighting for a fair labour reform that protects workers' rights. There are positive aspects to the work done by the Senate, but we think that it is also important to allow national inter-company negotiations. This would be an important and useful way of promoting labour relations that benefit everybody,” said Raina at the press conference.
Barbara Figueroa, president of the CUT, was also present at the press conference, said:
“Chile has not reformed labour relations for 30 years. We must conduct the current process with great care. It would be irresponsible to reject it completely because it does not meet all our expectations. We must remember we can continue this process of reform in the future. It has been a difficult period and a lot will depend on how trade unions make the most of these minimum provisions."
CONSTRAMET, CONSFETEMA and the FTC, all IndustriALL affiliates, gave critical support to the proposed reform and are still trying to improve it. They participated in a strike on 22 March in support of: “more democracy, reform now, a new constitution and a better Chile”.
Raina, together with Jorge Almeida, IndustriALL Regional Secretary and Marino Vani, Assistant Regional Secretary, also held meetings with the labour minister, Ximena Rincón, and mining minister, Aurora Williams, to discuss the government’s position on other issues of importance for workers, such as ratification of ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.
The labour minister told them that Chilean mines in practice meet Convention 187 standards and that, on 28 April, the government plans to launch a new health and safety policy. In any case, she agreed to review the convention before that date. The mining minster provided figures showing an improvement in the health and safety situation.