General strike in Chile

THE FIRST general strike in Chile for 17 years took place on 13 August. Called by the Central Workers’ Union (CUT), the main trade union federation, the strike was for better benefits and working conditions and against the policies of the government of President Ricardo Lagos.

Unemploymentisatl0%andthe minimum wage is about 115 pesos per month whereas an independent study says that a family needs a minimum of 410 pesos per month.

The strike took place in the face of threats from President Lagos that strikers would be fined and that anti-terrorism laws would be used against the strike leaders.

Riot police used water cannon and teargas to attack protesters throughout the day in Santiago.

Despite the threats, tens of thousands of workers expressed their anger at the neo-liberal policies of the ruling coalition that has done nothing to improve the conditions of workers since the fall of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.