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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Record Number of Conflicts? Michelle Bachelet’s Inheritance of Unresolved Employment Issues

  • Author(s): Sehnbruch, Kirsten
  • et al.

In November 2008 a Mercurio headline proclaimed: “Record number of strikes under this government.” We can allege that the right-wing newspaper is engaging in manipulative fear-mongering, but the numbers do warrant attention. During the Bachelet administration Chile experienced twenty-seven strikes in less than three years, which constitutes a multiple of the total strikes under all previous Concertación governments put together. This paper will attempt to explain why labor issues have gained a much higher profile under the Bachelet administration than its policy makers had originally anticipated. It first presents some empirical evidence that summarizes key problems of the Chilean labor market before going on to discuss how employment issues moved up the political agenda of priorities as the political consensus surrounding labor policy was shaken up by the increased number of protests. Finally, it reviews the government’s attempt to establish a new policy consensus on labor issues through a dedicated commission and reviews its recommendations in the context of Chile’s development process.

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