Constitutional uncertainty for work?

SEBASTIAN PARGA

Many companies are anxious to know what the future scenario is in labor matters if the Approval wins in the September plebiscite. Reports on constitutional and labor law show an irrefutable reality: there is a lot of cloth to cut and the points that can be clarified are quite few.

What important issues appear on the horizon? There are four points that will be talked about: the changes in the moments in which the right to strike can be exercised; the transformations in collective bargaining where there are different actors (branch unions, by estates, by territory); the representativeness of the unions (there are no quorum limitations); and their participation in the company’s decision-making.

“Labor issues are fertile ground for populist measures, but if the new Constitution is approved, the political temperature and the anticipated economic difficulties should allow for a balance.”

Predicting positions at this time is extremely complex and generates uncertainty, since the text is very generic. A change should be made in the corporation law that allows a corporate structure so that the unions participate in company decisions, something like what happens in Germany, where there are two boards (one advisory and supervisory, and the other executive).

Another point that worries employers is that the right to strike is not reserved solely for collective bargaining. This is not new, since in practice strikes such as the one currently suffered by Codelco have been accepted by the jurisprudence, in the event that there is a justified reason.

Regarding collective bargaining and the new structures, there is nothing new if we look at the existing framework contracts in mining and the inter-company unions themselves. Here the important thing will be to determine the degree of relationship that will exist with them, and if a branch negotiation can be modified by a company or territory negotiation, as happens in the European Union, where workers can have several collective agreements and some can prevail one on top of the other, which can be very important for smaller entrepreneurs who have special characteristics.

Finally, the impact of unions without a minimum quorum remains to be seen, since by not necessarily having representation, the leaders may not have jurisdiction per se and that would be a way to prevent their abuse for individual and not collective purposes. .

As we can see, the constitutional text is just a title that allows different interpretations. Unfortunately, labor issues are fertile ground for populist measures, but if the new Constitution is approved, the political temperature and the economic difficulties that all experts are approaching should allow a balance in the legal norms that are approved, without affecting the much-thumbed word “ productivity”.

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