The controversy over working hours catches the attention in Chile


17 August 2019 – An increasingly wide controversy during the working day involving government, politicians, businessmen, trade unions and academics continued to capture the attention of the Chileans in the week ending today.

The debate is concentrated between the proposal of the Communist deputy Camila Vallejo, which supports the reduction of weekly working hours from 45 to 40 hours, and that of the government, which insists on seeking the "flexibility" of the hours by agreement between the employees and entrepreneurs.

The government was put up against the wall by the Vallejo proposal, which according to the polls has the support of over 70% of the population, and to bring it to the pass it appealed to all the resources at its disposal.

For this reason, it has triggered what some people describe as a media war to sow fear among the population, to the point that the finance minister, Felipe Larraín, said that reducing the weekly working day would cause an increase in the cost of labor, which would imply the disappearance of about 250 thousand jobs, a figure that later rose to over 300 thousand.

For his part, President Sebastián Piñera has not lost the opportunity to defend the initiative of the executive, but also in an enlarged political committee that was held on Monday he defined the parties of the ruling party a chapter, after the support expressed by some of his deputies. opposition project.

Meanwhile, although the government insists on targeting SMEs as the hardest hit by the reduction in working hours, the National Confederation of Medium, Small, Micro Enterprises, Services and Crafts has reaffirmed its support for the 40-hour day.

The unitary workers' center also expressed its support for the 40-hour initiative, rejected the government's project and even called for a march for the rejection of the labor policy of the executive on Wednesday.

On the other hand, even the big business organizations have not spared any declaration against the 40-hour proposal, supporting every kind of inconvenience for the country, but in the process they have requested that the government ignore the communication confrontation and appeal to studies deeper in support of his proposal. .

In the middle of this debate, a study of the National Statistics Institute on wages in the country that ratifies inequality in Chilean society has not gone unnoticed revealing that half of the workers earn 400 thousand Chilean pesos per month (about $ 580) or less, while only 1.7 percent of employees receive more than three million (four thousand 400 dollars).

He also showed considerable inequality by sex, because while the average salary of men was just over 411 thousand Chilean pesos, women received equal work only 343 thousand 234, representing a gap of 27.2 percent.

To all this was added the pessimism of the economists consulted by the central bank, which again lowered the forecasts for economic growth for 2019 and placed it at 2.6 per cent, in contrast to the optimism of President Piñera on improving 39; economy of the country in this second semester.

The fundamental cause is the vulnerability of Chile, essentially dependent on copper exports, given the uncertainty of the international economy, increasingly affected by the geopolitical confrontation of the United States and China expressed in the trade and tariff war.

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