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Why Is It So Difficult to Reform Collective Labour Law? Associational Power and Policy Continuity in Chile in Comparative Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2020

Pablo Pérez Ahumada*
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile, and Adjunct Researcher, COES, Chile
*
*Corresponding author. Email: pperez@uahurtado.cl.

Abstract

Since Chile returned to democracy in 1990, centre-left governments have tried to reform the provisions on collective bargaining, strikes and unions established by the Pinochet dictatorship. Between 2015 and 2016 President Michelle Bachelet made the latest attempt to reform them. Despite favourable conditions, the changes were modest. This article explains why this is so. Drawing upon the notion of ‘associational power’ and through comparisons with labour reforms in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, this article suggests that the imbalance between workers’ and employers’ collective power is key for explaining why pro-labour reforms fail.

Spanish abstract

Spanish abstract

Desde que Chile retornó a la democracia en 1990, gobiernos de centro-izquierda han tratado de reformar las estipulaciones sobre pactos colectivos, huelgas y sindicatos establecidos por la dictadura de Pinochet. Entre 2015 y 2016 la presidenta Michelle Bachelet hizo el último intento por reformarlas. Pese a existir condiciones favorables, los cambios fueron modestos. Este artículo explica por qué. Partiendo de la noción de ‘poder de asociación’ y mediante comparaciones con reformas laborales en Argentina, Brasil y Uruguay, este artículo sugiere que el desequilibrio entre el poder colectivo de los trabajadores y el de los empleadores es clave para explicar por qué las reformas en pro de los trabajadores han fracasado.

Portuguese abstract

Portuguese abstract

Desde o retorno do Chile à democracia em 1990, governos de centro-esquerda tentam reformar as medidas sobre negociações coletivas, greves e sindicatos, estabelecidas durante a ditadura de Pinochet. Entre 2015 e 2016, a presidente Michelle Bachelet realizou a última tentativa de reforma. Apesar do momento apresentar condições favoráveis, as mudanças foram apenas modestas. Este artigo explica as razões pelas quais isso aconteceu. Mobilizando o conceito de ‘poder de associação’ e comparando a reforma chilena com as reformas trabalhistas na Argentina, Brasil e Uruguai, o artigo sugere que o desequilíbrio entre o poder coletivo dos trabalhadores e dos empregadores é a chave para compreender o fracasso das reformas pró-trabalhadores.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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