Chilean ag minister to push ahead temporary worker scheme

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Chilean ag minister to push ahead temporary worker scheme

Chile's agricultural minister Luis Mayol has pledged to "give urgency" in processing a temporary farm worker bylaw, following complaints from union over delays. worker _ small

The bill, known officially as the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Statute, was put forward in Congress in September 2011 and aims to change the current labor law that regulates the activity of agricultural workers in terms of sector needs.

National Union Federation of Fruit Growers (Fedefruta) vice president Juan Carolus Brown said Mayol's comments were good news for the fruit industry, and particularly its workers.

"Your initiative will improve the employment relationship, which in the case of workers, will be an opportunity to improve their incomes, and on the business side, improve their productivity," he said.

"We hope this project will have the political support required because workers and employers are in full agreement on the benefits that improving labor relations means.

"That's why the government's commitment to give this bill the haste it deserves is importat

National Farmers Federation president Segundo Steilen urged the Congress to "put the long pants on" (take the matter seriously) and consider agriculture as "an important sector for this country".

"Temporary workers cannot wait any longer and we need this bill to be approved for the benefit of our sector," he said.

Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (ASOEX) president Ronald Bown expressed his satisfaction with the initiative launched by the Government, noting that the recent rains demonstrated the need for simple tools to mitigate the damages of adverse weather events, which impact fruit production and worker income.

"We have been witnesses to circumstances in which the official meterological organization forecast rains between Dec. 17-19 in the country's south-central zone, during the full harvest for export cherries, and a grower-exporter in Curicó was fined 120 UTM (US$16,785) for harvesting and packing cherries on Sunday 16 in a deal that was fully agreed upon by both parties," Bown said.

"The argument, very solid in this case was that this day would be offset - with increased pay for being Sunday - by days not worked due rain."

Among the key points of the bylaw is the possibility of negotiations between workers and employers that benefit workers without needing existing legislation on the issue.

The bill would also allow for the adaptation of agricultural labor contracts with established pacts on a per site basis, adjusting to the realities of rural work.

Indefinite employment would also be recognized if a worker has had two or more contracts with the same employer for the last 12 months, while the scheme would also introduce an annualizing income scheme allowing families to access government subsidies, among other benefits.




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