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Industrial Chile and the gender challenges of labour reform

8 March, 2017On the eve of the introduction of a labour reform aiming to increase the number of women in trade union leadership roles, 8 March has a special significance for IndustriALL’s affiliate, IndustriALL Chile-Constramet, in its fight for gender equity.

After joining the Not One Less campaign march and activities organized by the trade union centre CUT on 8 March, IndustriALL Chile will commemorate International Women’s Day on 9 March with a seminar on the gender aspects of the labour reform that will come into force on 1 April.

“We want to analyze how the changes in the reform might help women,” explained the head of IndustriALL Chile’s Women’s Department, María Teresa Espinosa.

“The new labour reform requires that women occupy trade union leadership positions. IndustriALL Chile’s statutes still do not require a minimum quota of women”.

IndustriALL Chile- Constramet has a women’s department, which tries to create opportunities for women to express their needs, fight for their ideas, take the lead in negotiations on their demands, work to strengthen the trade union movement and increase union membership among women.

“We aim to recruit a lot of women to IndustriALL Chile because we see the difficult working conditions of women. We organize courses and seminars where we train women to express themselves,” said Espinosa.

The new reform requires at least one third of union executive members to be women and that at least one woman is included on the negotiating committees of unions that have female members.

The changes to labour legislation therefore represent a real challenge to Chilean trade unions. IndustriALL Chile supports the changes and agrees there is still work to be done to provide equal opportunities to women and achieve equality between men and women.

For example, the reform gives unions the right to request information about pay that  will allow them to compare the pay levels of men and women. According to the most recent survey conducted by Chile’s National Institute of Statistics the pay gap between men and women increased to 31.6 per cent in 2016. The provisions of the labour reform will allow unions to find out the real situation on pay at each workplace. But unions will still have to fight for equal pay.

IndustriALL’s Assistant Regional Secretary, Laura Carter, said:

“The efforts of IndustriALL Chile - Constramet reflect the efforts of IndustriALL. We have formulated our objectives and now we have to find a way of achieving them – . 8 March is a good time to reiterate our commitment to this task.”