December 4, 2012
By Mauricio Muñoz, Sociologist. Joint Investigator Labor Area ICAL
In the last two decades trade in Chile has had an explosive growth in productive terms, overalls thanks to the growth of supermarkets and big stores: in other words retail. This productive sector has 1.553.780 employees, 50,4% women and 49,6 % men, which represent 20,3% of the total of people employed at national level, being the sector with the largest quantity of people employed in the country .
The organization of the workers of the supermarkets and big stores has consolidated itself along with labor flexibility, both so at the interior of the companies (contracts with fixed extension, and variable schedules, functions and wages) as well as in the labor market (subcontracting and supply of personal).
The “multirut”, management tactics that allows big retail companies to be structured based on multiple social reasons with the objective of avoiding legal responsibilities, has also contributed to atomizing the workers, blocking their rights to form trade unions and collective negotiation.
However, in spite of the “flexible” productive context in which they act, these workers have been able to organize themselves and to generate conditions to negotiate collectively with the companies. But it is not also any negotiation, but rather a “collective supra company negotiation” – since we must remember that in the Chilean labor legislation, the companies are only forced to negotiate collectively with the unions of company type (not with the intercompany), that is to say, for the case of the retail, each company or, rather, each social reason (multirut) with each union that is constituted as counterpart.
This way, in these days, the Intercompany trade union of Leader Walmart Chile obtained through a negotiation a salary readjustment of 15%, benefits such as end of conflict term voucher and a better regulation of the labor day for its 15 thousand associates. A success that looks to consolidate itself with a future confederation that will agglutinate all the commerce workers.
These are fundamental steps since generating broad coordinations makes it possible to finish with the atomization and competition amongst the workers (flexibility, individualization, fear, etc.) and it begins to constitute a general competition against the Capital. Incipient configuration of the “enlarged labor subject”, whose character is political and that defends and fights for the class interests, those of the class-thats-lives-from-work.
 These percentages were calculated in proportional manner, using the information of the New National Labor Survey (NENE) of the trimester December – January – February- 2010.
 The information corresponds to the trimester December – January- February 2012. Available at the website: http://www.ine.cl/canales/chile_estadistico/mercado_del_trabajo/nene/cifras_trimestrales.php
 See http://www.lanacion.cl/trabajadores-de-lider-celebran-sindicato-interempresas-consiguio-15-de-reajuste/noticias/2012-12-04/120234.html.