The global solution for human resource professionals, combines custom research, strategic white papers, country primers, webinars and OnDemand educational programs, and the expert guidance...
By Tom Azzopardi
Workers in Chile can sign a collective agreement with their employer without the need to form a union, an appeals court has ruled.
In a harshly worded ruling dated Dec. 4, the Santiago Court of Appeals accused the country's Labor Inspectorate of deliberately ignoring the existing law in its decision not to recognize a collective agreement signed between a logistics firm and its employees.
Chile's national labor director Cristian Melis has said that he plans to appeal the decision before the Supreme Court.
The case is the first to venture into the legal fog regarding the status of nonunionized negotiating groups caused by a constitutional tussle over a controversial labor reform recently signed into law.
After 13 workers approved a deal negotiated with Empresa Servicios Generales Maper Limitada, the company tried to register the agreement with local labor authorities in northern Santiago.
The authority refused to register the pact, however, arguing that the reformed labor code (Law No. 20,940) left no space for collective agreements with nonunionized workers.
The workers appealed that decision, arguing that the refusal to recognize the deal infringed some of their fundamental rights, including the right not to join a union and the right to negotiate collectively.
In its ruling, the Appeals Court backed the workers, noting that the right to negotiate collectively was still protected under the law.
The government's original bill, approved by Congress in April 2016, sought to give unions an exclusive right to negotiate collectively, a long-held aim of Chile's labor movement, but following a challenge by opposition lawmakers, the Constitutional Court struck down the key clause as an infringement of workers' constitutional right to collective negotiations.
Despite warnings from labor lawyers that the removal of the key clauses created a legal vacuum with regards to the status of nonunionized negotiating groups, the government enacted the bill largely unchanged, and labor lawyers have since been waiting for the issue to be resolved in the courts.
In the thirteen-page ruling, the Appeals Court said that it appeared the Labor Inspectorate was deliberately ignoring “the ruling by the Constitutional Court and applying what was never law, a bill which legally did not succeed.”
The fact that “the administration ignores all these laws and only allows unions to negotiate collectively suggests that the Labor Inspectorate is motivated purely by voluntarism, that is the taking of decisions based only on what is desirable or pleasant,” wrote Judge Juan Cristobal Mera.
Although the new ruling does not set a binding precedent for workers at other companies, it does give them strong grounds to challenge the labor authority's refusal to recognize their agreements, labor lawyer Luis Parada of BAZ DLA Piper told Bloomberg BNA on Dec. 6.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Azzopardi in Santiago at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at email@example.com
For more information on Chilean HR law and regulation, see the Chile primer.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)