We publish an inofficial translation of an article by the Chilenian newspaper El pueblo that was sent to us.

The combative strike of the cherry seasonal workers


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Cherry seasonal workers rally in Paine. Among the slogans are "Fair wage increase", "Contractors who profit from the efforts of others out", "Contractor thief, get out!

In mid-November, hundreds of cherry seasonal workers in Melipilla, Paine, Graneros, San Fernando and other places staged combative protests demanding better wages and working conditions, leading one of the most important struggles in the Chilean countryside in recent years. We publish the note sent to us by the Comités de Temporeros en Lucha (Committees of Seasonal Workers in Struggle) where they analyse this movement and draw lessons for the struggle of the seasonal workers.

At the beginning of November, more than 200,000 seasonal workers started the long-awaited cherry harvesting season, where many of them earn the wages that will allow them to withstand the harsh winter in the countryside, travelling from the most distant parts of the country, as well as from other countries.

The harvest began and the bosses announced this season's wages: they would be lower than last year. With inflation running rampant in the country, this was the last straw for the seasonal workers. Years of resisting the worst working conditions, precarious transport, bad treatment, activities highly risky for health, long working hours, low wages, etc., exploded in November 2022 and led the seasonal workers to strike, fighting as one fist against the bosses.

When this year's payments were announced, the seasonal workers quickly began to organise, calling an assembly on the 13th of November in Melipilla, with the aim of discussing the payments. Hundreds of seasonal workers of different nationalities came to this meeting, where all voices were raised against this abuse, and it was agreed that the strike would begin the following week.

Cherry strike spreads across the countryside

Since Monday the 14th, dozens of farms have stopped harvesting. At 5:00 AM, in the square of Melipilla where hundreds of seasonal workers are waiting for the buses and vans that will take them to the farms, the slogan was "we will not let anyone on!", and groups of strikers closed the doors of the vans and expelled them from the place so that they could not pick up people.

Hundreds of seasonal workers did not go to work and demonstrated in the streets of Melipilla. Others, when they arrived at work, found out about the strike and stopped working or even started sabotaging the farms, throwing the fruit that was already on the trucks on the ground.

In a task that lasts only one month, such as the harvest, where all the work done during the year on the farm is condensed, a strike is a big blow to the landowners, and that is why all the laws are against the organisation of seasonal workers. However, in Melipilla they managed to turn this situation around, and dozens of farms went on strike, all demanding better wages, working conditions and better treatment.

The word began to spread, and calls quickly appeared and in the following days strikes broke out in other areas of the Metropolitan Region, extending as far as the Maule Region. In addition to Melipilla, the communes of Paine, Graneros, Rengo, San Fernando, Curicó and others joined in.

The strike was developing and in some places there was even sabotage of contractors' vans and buses, one of the most hated enemies of the masses in this struggle. These contractors often take a large part of the wages of the seasonal workers, and in return give them terrible conditions of transport or housing.

The bosses, terrified by the strength that this movement was gaining, with hundreds of seasonal workers marching in the streets, with some vans and buses sabotaged by the masses, had to give in, increasing the price, which shows the strength that the seasonal workers can have, united and organised, this being a great victory for the seasonal workers and for all the poor of the countryside of our country.

This struggle shows that with the crisis, the contradictions in the countryside are growing and the overflow of the masses of poor peasants and agricultural wage earners to the militant struggle is getting closer and closer. Today more than ever in the Chilean countryside, a single spark can set the prairie on fire!

Comités de Temporeros en Lucha



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