VALPARAÍSO – As the strike of dockworkers from Terminal Pacífico Sur in Valparaíso continues, it starts to take its toll on Chilean exports. Meanwhile, in other Chilean ports, workers have started to strike to show loyalty to their Valparaíso colleagues. Today, dockworkers rejected an deal offered by the government.
The workers of Terminal Pacífico Sur (TPS), all temporary dockworkers without a contract, rejected an offer from the government today. As the strike, which has lasted for over a month, is increasingly damaging the Chilean export economy, government officials are looking for solutions. So far, without result.
The deal offered by the government included the creation of a body that would “analyze characteristics within the port of Valparaíso, in order to improve its legislation”, access to training courses, a soft loan from the company and a bonus for the striking workers to end the current conflict. This offer was unanimously rejected by the unions.
Fruit rots while strike continues
The urgency to find a solution grows daily, as the export sector in Chile takes a hit. Valparaíso handles 56 percent of all fruit exports and since the strike started in November, this amount has dropped by 95 percent in comparison with last year. Exporters are forced to find other ports in for their produce before it rots.
— Alonso Fernández Díaz (@MiguelAlonsoF) December 18, 2018
Nationwide support in Chilean ports
Finding other ports proves difficult, as the Valparaíso strike has been spreading nationwide. In Iquique, in the north, strikers put up burning barricades, while in San Antonio, dockworkers have started to strike as well.
According to the national union, in the ports of Antofagasta, Caldera, Chañaral, Huasco, Coronel, Ventanas, San Vicente, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas strikes have begun or announced, too.
“It will be worse on NYE in Valparaíso”
Apart from the damage to the Chilean economy, the threats from dockworkers to interrupt the famous fireworks in the port of Valparaíso on New Years Eve seem serious, endangering tourism in the city.
As a union leader told CNN Chile, referring to clashes with the police: “Yesterday was a rehearsal of what will happen on December 31 (…), yesterday burned Valparaiso, imagine what will happen, it will be worse”.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.