Last Tuesday, a group of officials (journalists, designers, commercial executives, press workers) of the regional media chain of El Mercurio, belonging to the union of the Journalistic Company El Norte S.A. (which groups El Mercurio de Antofagasta, SoyAntofagasta.cl, La Estrella de Antofagasta, El Mercurio de Calama, SoyCalama, La Estrella de Tocopilla, Diario Atacama, La Estrella de Arica, La Estrella de Iquique, SoyArica.cl, SoyIquique.cl), reported the seven-day delay in the payment of their salaries and social security contributions. “We repudiate the company’s actions in its vexatious treatment of its workers. To date, there are seven days of delay in the payment of salaries, which has generated various problems in each of our families. To this is added the repeated action of the company in generating late payments alluding to financial and cash flow problems, not only in remuneration but also in contributions, impositions and health insurance, “they said.
The conflict has dragged on since March last year, when workers began a legal strike in the framework of collective bargaining. After this, the negotiation was postponed to October 2022 by mutual agreement. Since then, salaries began to be paid in arrears of two or three days. “But this time it’s been a lot. A week,” they accuse. The union has previously reported the situation to the Labour Inspectorate, from where the company has been fined, but the arrears have continued.
After the statement, the company paid part of the salaries on Tuesday and the rest on Wednesday.
In Santiago they got used to it
In Santiago (El Mercurio, LUN and La Segunda) the situation is not very different, so much so that the workers assume, since last year, that salaries – which were paid by collective agreement two days before the last day of the month – take “normally” from three to six days.
This started in 2020 with the heads and editors (who were also temporarily reduced the amount, which was paid to the compensation) and, then, the measure was generalized to the rest of the plant. Since then they have been informed, via email, that “in the following three months unfortunately due to problems of the company we will not be able to pay the salaries in the stipulated terms”. This has been done after an “agreement” with the union, which has shown “understanding” in the face of the financial situation of the conglomerate.
On the other hand, the gratuities that are normally canceled in March of each year, since 2021 have been divided into four installments. The last one this year should be paid at the end of June (rather, at the beginning of July).
These measures were added to others adopted before the pandemic, such as the reduction of working hours, agreed retirements and mass layoffs. While the industry in general was coming down, the social explosion in 2019 and then the pandemic have hit the Chilean communications giant hard. Today the large building of Santa María works to a minimum, only some workers go to the dependencies “that, in general, operate without heating or air conditioning, but with the impeccable park …”, complains an official.
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