Police attack public workers in Chile
Skirmishes have broken out between Chilean security forces and thousands of public workers taking part in a demonstration against salary adjustments presented by the government.
On Thursday, some 20,000 people marched down Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins avenue in the central part of the capital Santiago to demand an increase of 7.5 percent in public sector salaries.
The demonstration was organized by the National Association of Fiscal Employees (ANEF) and other workers’ groups.
The protesters were blasted with water cannon by police. There were also clashes between some of the demonstrators and law enforcement officers in riot gear.
“Today, despite today’s repression, despite the forced removal (from Congress) the day before yesterday, despite the threats of cuts, public workers have come here to this demonstration… because they are standing up and are not willing to give in or negotiate from their knees,” ANEF President Raul de la Puente said.
“This aggression will not be tolerated, they are going to have to feel the weight of the workers, the weight of the citizens, in their time,” he added.
The protesters also delivered a letter addressed to President Michelle Bachelet, urging her to swiftly resolve the salary stand-off.
The demonstration rally came only two days after public workers broke into the Congress building during a similar protest.
Chamber of Deputies President Osvaldo Andrade ordered police forces to remove the protesters from the building.
“Public workers have been victims of an unacceptable, intolerable and unjustifiable aggression on the part of the state itself, our own employer,” public health worker Esteban Maturana said at the time.
On Tuesday, Congress dismissed changes that would have raised public sector salaries by 3.2 percent.
Chilean public workers have called for immediate and unconditional negotiations with the government to raise their salary issue and other woes.