Chilean port workers started strikes against a labour reform on 18 June, one day after the lower chamber of Congress had approved it.
Although the Ports Union (Unión Portuaria) initially called for an indefinite nationwide strike, the industrial action did not last longer than 24 hours.
At the country’s main port of San Antonio, 90 km west of Santiago, workers stopped for six hours. In Valparaíso, 100 km northwest of the capital, demonstrators from the port workers’ union – which has approximately 400 members – erected barricades at the southern access point to the port (Terminal Pacífico Sur – TPS), and occupied terminal 2 (Terminal Cerros de Valparaíso – TCVAL).
Workers also stopped operations at Puerto Ventanas, in Quintero region, which moves coal and copper concentrate, and at San Vicente, in Bío Bío, which was paralysed for 24 hours by about 1,000 workers.
Separately, workers at the port of Iquique have been on strike for 21 days over working conditions.
The industrial action at the ports comes at a time of ongoing protests by students and teachers against education reform. Teachers, who have been on strike since 1 June, joined port workers in marches on 18 June in the cities of Concepción, La Serena, Santiago, Temuco, Valdivia, and Valparaíso, erecting barricades and disrupting traffic.
Although the labour reform seeks to reduce labour disputes, increasing the power of unions and banning the replacement of striking workers, port workers are demanding more clarity over “basic services” that cannot be disrupted during a strike, and wider negotiations by workers of the same sector.