By Ed Dalton
With the coming of the New Year, militant workers in Chile shut down a major port controlled by Canadian imperialist Ultraport. The supply chain company reneged on deals negotiated by the striking workers, who have responded with intense and militant protests.
Work stoppages were carried out every two hours from January 3 to January 8 at the southern Pacific terminal of Valparaiso. The workers demanded that Ultraport honor the agreements as well as reinstate 24 workers who were laid off as an act of political repression.
The Valparaiso strike began in November 2018 and was one of the largest strikes in the region. Other worker demands were improved working conditions, bonuses, and an end to the repression of those who participate in the movement.
Much of the militant activity was carried out by temporary workers, who are only supposed to be hired due to an excess of work. The grievances of workers include being hired at the start of a shift and dismissed at the end of the shift, which excludes them from any benefits or rights. They have no stability or work contracts; they are not entitled to breaks and are denied union access. The right to strike for temporary workers is prohibited.
The militant actions and work stoppage led by the temporary workers of Port Valparaiso has spread to other cities. Undeterred by the holidays, one slogan of the workers was, “If there is no Christmas for the port, there is no New Year.”
Workers and revolutionary newspapers have reported state repression against the combative activity of the workers. Torture, arrest, and harassment have been reportedly used against union officials as well as threats to workers’ families. The reactionary old state is attempting to use white terror to break the will of the masses.
The dock workers have put up a stiff resistance to the crackdown, using sticks and stones against the police gas and rubber bullets as well as erecting flaming barricades.
On December 17th, Chilean police and special forces raided union offices, destroying the office and brutalizing and arresting workers.
The same day, a car drove into a crowd of protesting workers, injuring three, and placed a camera man at the scene in critical condition.
In the photos, red masks can be seen in the struggle, indicating revolutionary leadership. 2019 promises to be a year of mighty resistance for the proletariat all over the world.