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Workers Will Protest For Minimum Wage This Thursday

By Mariana Zepedaon July 3, 2012.

The Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT) march in Santiago. Photo: Joseph Sexton Hinchliffe

SANTIAGO — The Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT), a union federation, called for a protest on Thursday July 5 concerning recent debates surrounding the minimum wage. The protest will begin at 11:30 a.m, leaving from Plaza Los Héroes and heading toward La Moneda, the Presidential palace.

Arturo Martínez, president of the CUT, declared: “On Thursday, the people will mobilize to make our proposal for a 250,000 minimum wage heard by the government.”

Martínez expressed his frustration at the stagnancy of the motions to increase minimum wage in Chile. “The current minimum wage is simply too low. We must have a minimum wage that conforms to the needs of the Chilean people and homes; not a minimum wage that is based on mere technical figures,” he said.

Demonstration will held in Santiago Centro but the CUT hopes that their provincial headquarters will garner much participation. “We hope that our mobilization is widespread, spanning from Arica until Última Esperanza,” Martínez added.

According to Martínez, the CUT will ask for the Metropolitan Municipality’s permission today, after rejecting proposals for the demonstrations to occur in four key points throughout Santiago, as this would ultimately hinder the worker’s ability to spread their message throughout the city.

Chile’s Minister of Economy, Pablo Longueira, rejected the CUT’s call to action.

According to Longueira, the workers have no reason to protest.

“There is no reason to conduct mobilizations on this subject,” Longueira stated. “Chileans are growing tired of these demonstrations that only cause damage, ending in violence. And then the people who call for the demonstrations do not accept responsibility for the damages.”

Longueira also denied the possibility that the government increase its proposal for a 250,000 peso minimum wage, as per the worker’s demands. “There is no Chilean citizen that does not wish that the minimum wage was as high as humanly possible, but we must be responsible,” Longueira held, adding that increasing minimum wage dramatically would cause higher levels of unemployment.

Martínez agrees with Longueira, as he believes that current government initiatives are not the solution for the minimum wage conundrum.

“The government’s motion to present Parliament with a project for a new institution to discuss minimum wage will only result in the creation of a simple, technical commission which will work based on macroeconomic principles and, ultimately, will not solve our problems,” he stated.

Martínez added “Parliament will not shoot itself in the foot. I don’t think our demands have any possibility of prospering,” highlighting the importance of taking to the streets to ensure that the CUT’s demands are not ignored.