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  • Workers at the ENAMI cathode plant in Tierra Amarilla, Chile. December 15, 2015.

    Workers at the ENAMI cathode plant in Tierra Amarilla, Chile. December 15, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 August 2019

The bill aims to modify the Labor Code by reducing the current 45-hour workweek to 40 hours.

As the 40-hour workweek law is up for debate in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies, a Cadem poll showed Monday that 74 percent of Chileans support the project, amid heavy opposition of far-right and conservative lawmakers. 

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“While Chile’s government rejects the reduction of working hours, citizens support the project that improves the quality of life of all,” the Chilean Communist Party tweeted on Tuesday. 

The bill was spearheaded in 2017 by Communist Party lawmakers Camila Vallejo and Karol Cariola, which aims to modify the Labor Code by reducing the current 45-hour workweek to 40 hours without reducing salaries. 

The project was displaced for two years but two weeks ago it was moved to the Labor Commission of the Chamber of Deputies for discussion. On Thursday it was approved by seven votes in favor and six abstentions making it possible to be discussed and voted on by the full Chamber. 

“Forty hours is a minimum of justice with the workers, with their families and their children,” Vallejo tweeted. 

According to the Institute of Labor Studies and Mori, 66% of workers prefer five eight-hour workdays and not four days working more than 12 hours a day, as proposed by the government reform. Does the government listen to workers or entrepreneurs?

 

The project faces strong opposition by far-right and conservative parties that have called it “non-viable” and “unconstitutional,” warning that productivity will be affected and that salaries will go down, despite the project’s clear objection against it.  

Based on Tuesday’s Cadem poll more than 70 percent of Chileans believe it won’t affect productivity, it will positively improve workers’ free time but 47 percent worry it will have a negative impact on salaries. 

In 2005, Chileans achieved a milestone in their labor legislation by modifying the regulations that were active for 80 years from 48 to 45 hours. 

Currently, the average hours of work per year in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is 1,734 hours per year. In Chile, the average is 1,941 hours of work per year per person.

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