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Uruguayan metal workers' union obtains shorter working week

23 November, 2023In a major victory for the union, IndustriALL affiliate in Uruguay, National Union of Metal and Allied Workers (UNTMRA), has managed to obtain a reduction in working hours.

UNTMRA signed an historic agreement in the tenth round of Wage Council negotiations, a tripartite collective bargaining process used in Uruguay to set national wages and other working conditions by category and sector. The collective bargaining agreement comprises more than 15 measures, including shorter working hours.

For UNTMRA, the reduction in working hours is a major victory. It was one of the demands that it decided to put to the Wage Council negotiation at its general assembly meeting in July. It also made calls for shorter working hours at a march organized with other union federations in September.

The agreement stipulates that the working week for the metal sector will be reduced from 48 hours to no more than 46 hours starting on 1 January 2024. It also states that workers will receive a pay rise equivalent to around 8.9 per cent per hour of work.

The workers who will benefit from these improved conditions include those working on industrial assembly lines and in aluminium windows factories, boiler factories, industrial maintenance, and the construction of metal machinery, tools and furniture. Under the new agreement, metal workers’ job descriptions will also be updated.

The agreement provides for equal opportunity, treatment and working conditions, without discrimination or exclusion on the basis of sex, race, colour, sexual orientation or other forms of discrimination. In addition, victims of domestic violence will be granted up to ten days’ paid leave per year, and a certain number of hours will be paid each month for psychological support.

The companies concerned also agreed to provide suitable and adequate vocational training to their workers to ensure that they can advance in their careers and take on the new technologies being adopted in the sector.

IndustriALL regional secretary Marino Vani says:

“We congratulate the metal workers of Uruguay and commend the leaders of our affiliate UNTMRA. This is a major breakthrough for the metal industry and will serve as an example for other sectors in the country.

“Workers need shorter working hours, which are also a way of maintaining, and even increasing, the number of jobs available. We need to keep fighting for more reductions in working hours, given the high levels of industrial productivity in recent decades. The tripartite negotiations represent a major victory for Uruguay’s working class, and the country’s unions and national agreements are an example for the rest of our region. The struggle goes on!"