"We only want to improve our working conditions and remunerations", this is what 1,000 workers on strike at Alto Maipo Project in Chile tell to the press and the company CNM-HOCHTIEF. Striking workers are part of the union SINTEC-Chile, which is part of National Federation of Workers in Construction, Wood, Services and Allied Sectors (FETRACOMA), an organization affiliated with the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) in this country.
FETRACOMA has informed to BWI about supposed anti-union practices carried out not only by Hochtief but also by STRABAG SpA Chile: both main companies constructing the mega Alto Maipo Hydroelectric Project in Chile.
The practices described by FETRACOMA include: intimidation to workers to avoid them to join the local union SINTEC, obstruction in collective bargaining processes, dismissal of union leaders, lists with the names of union leaders in various entrances of the project in order to prohibit their entry, labor discrimination, reduction of salaries to union delegates of between $150,000 and $ 400,000 chilean pesos (around USD 221.63 and USD 591.01), written warnings to union leaders accusing them of carried out union activities at workplace, among others practices.
About this strike, which reaches 6 days until today, Jorge Hernández, President of FETRACOMA, points out that: "These transnational companies come to Chile to circumvent laws and prohibit collective bargaining, which is a right guaranteed by our Constitution. We just want to improve our working conditions here".
The BWI repudiates any anti-union act tending to weaken the rights of construction workers in Chile and urges to striking workers to not to give up on their fair and legal struggle. In this regard, BWI reiterates its full support for FETRACOMA and calls on the company Hochtief to put its good offices ahead with the intention of reopening a transparent and timely negotiation process.