International Dockworkers' Union considers Chilean boycott

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International Dockworkers' Union considers Chilean boycott

UPDATE (Jan. 28): Port workers have decided to strike again, alleging their employers have not upheld their end of the agreement.

UPDATE: Chile's port companies, workers and the government have reached a deal to bring strikes to a close. Click here for more details.

Representatives of the International Dockworkers' Union (IDC) European Council met in Portugal on Jan. 8 to address European Union-related issues, but the group also analyzed the current situation facing Chilean port workers, who at that point were five days in to a strike that has now gone on for three weeks. Port containers 12

After discussing the matter at length, the council sent out a press release declaring complete support and solidarity for Chile's mobilized workforce. More than two weeks later, the IDC is now planning to exercise further pressure in the event that the strike continues.

"We thought this conflict would not trascend or worsen in the way that it is," said Mauricio Zarzuelo, the IDC International Council's Latin America and Caribbean coordinator in conversation with

"As the coordinator for the Latin American and Caribbean zone, I am in constant contact with all the coordinators of Africa, Asia and Europe, and we are evaluating the issue every day because it is worsening."

Click here for background information on the strikes.

He said the IDC International Council's role was not to exacerbate te situation, but to help bring a prompt solution to the conflict.

"We are no here to worsen the conflict, but to solve it. Today, if Chilean workers are asking for solidarity they already have it, but in conjunction we are doing what's possible to give support to the workers from there.

Zarzuelo said the conflict ceased to be "common" once the intense confrontations began and pressure was seen from authorities against the striking workers, leading the IDC to consider stronger measures.

"Companies are intimidating the workers to life the strike, they want to remove the status of unions, and so we are bringing a convincing response. This response could have a thousand variations, among them an international boycott of cargo coming from Chile, both for what's there and what is coming.

"We are looking for it [the boycott] only to be implemented in countries Chile exports to, which are in Asia and Europe specifically, because we - at least in Argentina - don't receive Chilean cargo."

"We could put pressure on in another way: going to the embassy, striking, showing our repudiation. But today in Argentina, trying to boycott Chile would be useless."

The coordinator said organizing a boycott was not an easy task, but the situation warranted these types of decisions.

"It is not easy to organize an international boycott. Firstly, we have problems with language and many things that are not understood in other parts of the world.

"We are evaluating that from the start of next week this measure will start to be implemented...but in truth, hopefully it is resolved before there is another type of pressure.

"We could mediate, we could go to all places where we are called to solve the problem, but as it's not that way, the employers and the Chilean Government do not give us any other choice as there are already colleagues who are asking us to do something.

"What we ask from the businesspeople is seriousness, to comply with what was agreed, to not delay the issue any further and to not pursue the workers. But, if this is not respected, we will take measures according to the situation."


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