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Konecta Chile Workers Command Attention

By Mariana Zepedaon July 11, 2012.

Evelyn Matthei, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, condemned the call center worker’s action. Photo: Ministerio Secretaria General de Gobierno

SANTIAGO — Since last week, workers from the call center Konecta Chile have been protesting their employer’s refusal to renegotiate salaries. The workers of this small company have garnered the attention of the Chilean public and government by taking over the clock at the Central Station.

On Monday, they chained themselves to the metro tracks, causing a suspension of Line 5 for more than an hour in eight stations.

Konecta Chile lends it services to several Chilean corporations including BancoEstado, Claro, Chilectra, and Transantiago.

The workers offered a public apology to commuters affected by their decision to take drastic measures and protest within the Santiago metro.

“We apologize for the inconvenience you experienced,” said Alejandra Alarcón, leader of the Konecta union. “However, we must continue protesting until the company responds.”

The Metro de Santiago announced their decision to take legal action against the three leaders of the workers who abruptly interrupted thousands of people’s commute to work during rush hour.

Yesterday, workers Claudia Pérez, Sergio Alegría, and Miguel Jaramillo appeared in court as attorney Luis Jaramillo presented the Metro de Santiago’s complaint.

In support of the call center workers, members of ACES (Coordinating Assembly for High School Students) occupied Konecta’s offices.

Spokesperson for ACES, Eloísa González, stated, “We’ve taken over the Konecta offices because we believe that the conditions these workers are forced to live in are absolutely deplorable. Many of these workers are university students who must work under these conditions in order to pay for their studies,” she explained.

Minister of Transportation Pedro Errázuriz condemned the workers’ actions. “It is unacceptable for a group of people to affect Santiago’s citizens for personal interests, particularly the users of public transport who were heading to their jobs or schools at this hour,” he stated.

Evelyn Matthei, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, condemned the metro incident. “This is not the correct way to understand workers’ rights,” Matthei stated.

Matthei reaffirmed her support for labor organizations, but indicated her concern with the their illegal methods. “Strikes are a sacred right in the Chilean Constitution, but they must unfold without violence, and without affecting thousands of people. Protesting is a right but we cannot accept an interruption of the metro and threats and violence.”

“The government wants more unions and better dialogue, but when people engage in violence in order to make a point, it is an enormous step backward for Chile,” Matthei added.