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Labor Relations in the State beyond Regulation. Evidence from the Chilean Case

Francisca Gutiérrez Crocco, Catalina Chamorro Ríos and Eduardo Abarzúa

In Latin America there are few countries with a legal framework that regulates collective bargaining in the public sector. However, most of these countries have strong public workers’ organizations that negotiate a wide range of issues with the authorities. Despite its impact on public budget, information lack on the extent and the characteristics of these collective bargaining practices.

This paper analyses the Chilean case to contribute to fill this blank. Based on a census of the public services in the Central Administration carried out in 2016 (ENCLACE), it examines the dynamics of collective bargaining in this sector. The article demonstrates that the lack of regulation has not been an obstacle to the development of the negotiation between public workers’ associations and the authorities. In the absence of clear rules to settle how, when, and what is possible to negotiate, public workers’ associations have been able to use their strength to create relatively stable spaces for participation that far exceed those legally guaranteed for workers in the private sector companies. The document proposes some elements to explain this situation and underscores that at least in the Chilean case regulation is not the best criterion for evaluating the development of labor relations in the public sector or the differences between workers in this sector and those of the private sector. 

Key words: Labor Relations; Collective Bargaining; Public Sector; Central Administration; Regulation Process; Chile

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