HUNDREDS of thousands of Chilean public sector workers on Thursday called an end to a four-day strike that slowed agriculture exports, after the government agreed to raise their pay by 10 per cent.
The strike, which began on Monday and disrupted garbage collection, hospital surgery and cross-border traffic, was the latest in a series of protests against President Michelle Bachelet's ruling centre-left coalition, which polls show could be ousted by rightist opponents in a presidential election next year.
Union leaders, who had been pushing for a 14.5 per cent pay hike, said around 400,000 public sector workers across Chile took part in the strike.
"We are ending the strike. We can go home," Arturo Martinez, president of Chilean umbrella worker union the CUT, said in the port town of Valparaiso. Pressured by mass marches by thousands of protesters in the capital this week, the government scrapped a planned sliding scale pay raise and was forced to improve its offer again after the Lower House of Congress rejected a 9.5 per cent increase.
The raise compares to inflation that hit 9.9 per cent for the 12 months to October more than triple the central bank's target rate of three per cent and the highest level since 1994. Reuters
Saturday, November 22, 2008
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