SANTIAGO – Around 100 Chilean public employees briefly occupied the Finance Ministry here Friday to protest the dismissal of 10,000 government workers since right-wing billionaire Sebastian Piñera became president in March.
The protest, led by ANEF union Vice President Jorge Consales, ended after 30 minutes when the workers were removed by police.
Six of the protesters were arrested.
“We are not defending political appointees, but administrative professionals: thousands of women and men that are being tossed into the street for no reason,” Consales told reporters.
The occupation of the ministry came amid the strike launched Tuesday by ANEF to press the Piñera administration to increase its offer of a 4.2 percent pay increase for public employees in 2011.
ANEF, which initially asked for an 8.9 percent pay hike, is now seeking a raise of more than 5 percent.
While the strike was suspended after 81 inmates died Wednesday in a fire at a Santiago prison, the job action will resume next week, ANEF President Raul de la Puente said.
The prison tragedy also led to a postponement of Senate debate on the government bill including the pay hike for public employees. The legislation was rejected last week in the lower house, where the center-left Concertacion has a majority.
The Concertacion, which governed Chile from 1990 until March of this year, says the proposed raise is inadequate. EFE