Workers at the ASENAV shipyards in Chile have voted to go on strike after the company only offered a 3.8% pay rise in stages. The union has taken action throughout the month, publicising the workers’ demands for better working conditions.
On Monday 6 June, more than 200 ASENAV employees demonstrated in the town of Valdivia, southern Chile, to express their dissatisfaction at the company's response to union demands during this round of collective bargaining. On 20 May, the union of ASENAV workers, which forms part of the Nacional Industrial Chile, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, presented its demands for a 10% pay rise, improved bonus payments, higher clothing and food allowances and an end to subcontracting and precarious work.
On 2 June, the company made an offer much lower than workers’ demands. It offered a 3.8 percent pay rise in stages and a productivity bonus worth 0.315 percent of basic pay to be paid on a quarterly basis until June 2016.
In response, the union organised demonstrations outside company plants and began a strike on Monday 30 June after a mass meeting rejected the company's final offer and voted in favour of a strike. The union says the company offer is practically the same as in 2012.
The union president, Héctor Silva, said that, in view of the company’s intransigence, the union has decided to bring the collective bargaining round out onto the streets rather than continue negotiating with the company behind closed doors: “In addition to our pay demands, we have raised the problem of working conditions in plants 1 and 2, where there is overcrowding and conditions are not safe”, he said.
Horacio Fuentes, president of Nacional Industrial Chile, expressed complete support and solidarity with the union: “We think the company's proposal is shamefully low, because company profits from the MAERSK boats alone are over US$ 200 million”.
Héctor Silva added: “We will respond with strength and unity and with a single objective, because for years we have produced a quality product for the national and international shipbuilding market. This company has earned billions of dollars thanks to the efforts of the skilled labour force in Valdivia, but does not recognise its most precious resource, which is the metalworkers”.