Chilean government sets new push on bill to reduce working hours

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SANTIAGO  (Reuters) – The government of Chilean President Gabriel Boric said it has revived efforts to pass a bill that would reduce working hours in the country and fulfill a campaign promise.

The bill, which aims to reduce the working week from 45 to 40 hours within five years, has stalled in Congress since it was introduced in 2017 by then-lawmaker and current government spokesperson Camila Vallejo.

Boric has given “urgency” to the bill, a provision in Chile’s constitution that forces lawmakers to consider a bill when mandated by the president.

Lawmakers will debate a series of changes to the bill made by Boric’s government, including a revision extending the reduction in working hours to workers in special categories, such as public transport drivers and domestic workers.

“These improvements are essential to bringing us closer to a new Chile, one that is fairer,” Boric said during a ceremony Tuesday at the presidential palace.

The center-left government has promoted dialogue with unions and worker federations along with representatives from small, medium and large companies at a time when the economy of the world’s largest copper producer is slowing down and faces strong inflationary pressures after a rapid post-pandemic recovery.

Boric said his government expected the bill to be voted on and approved as soon as possible by both legislative houses.

(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; editing by Richard Pullin)

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