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'Salmon Plan' Falls Short for Chile's Workers

CHILE - Government efforts to help Chiles growing list of unemployed salmon workers have done little to truly ease the worsening labour crisis, insist several of the farmed salmon and trout industrys main unions.

Starting two years ago, the country’s once-booming salmon industry fell into an ongoing slump that has resulted in thousands of job cuts, writes Benjamin Witte for Patagonia Times. President Michelle Bachelet first addressed the problem last November, promising her government would be “very attentive to what happens and ready with all types of tools.”

“If there’s someone who isn’t to blame for all this, it’s the workers,” she said.

Five months later, reports Patagonia Times, with industry layoffs piling up quickly and labor groups taking to the streets of Puerto Montt and Ancud, the government finally announced a series of concrete measures, promising to spend roughly US$9 million on direct job creation, retraining of laid off workers and financing for small business proposals. According to Patagonia Times, the so-called “Salmon Plan” was designed to help roughly 5,000 workers.

The problem, say union leaders, is that the measures never took into account the real scope of the crisis. Even at the time the plan was unveiled, salmon companies had already axed between 10,000-15,000 jobs. Since then the numbers have only risen.

According to a recently aired report, there are about 20,000 unemployed salmon workers. But the government measures are only supposed to help 5,000.

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