Chile will send Congress key parts of labor bill after court snub

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet attends a session of the Summit of Heads of State of MERCOSUR and Associated States and 49th Meeting of the Common Market Council in Luque, Paraguay, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s government said on Saturday it will veto the parts of President Michelle Bachelet’s landmark labor reform that a top court had ruled were unconstitutional, sending them back to Congress for discussion, reviving her cornerstone bill.

After conservative lawmakers filed a motion against some aspects of the bill in Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal, the court, in an April 27 decision, rejected as unconstitutional a provision that said companies could only negotiate with legally designated unions during collective wage talks.

It also rejected part of a measure that prohibited companies from extending benefits resulting from bargaining agreements to non-unionized employees.

“Not only can we not rule out that some of the progress made in the bill has been compromised (by the court’s ruling) but also that there is a setback for workers’ rights,” said government spokesman Marcelo Diaz.

In order to avoid that, Bachelet will veto certain parts of the bill, sending them back to Congress, said Diaz.

The full details of the court’s ruling are expected to be published on May 9.

“Once we know all the details of the court’s decision we will send a bill to Congress that modifies the text to fit those considerations in terms of union tutelage and reestablishing conditions that make progress for more just and balanced labor relations,” added Diaz.

The reform, aimed at strengthening organized labor in the South American country, was passed by the Senate in March after a bruising battle that opened divisions within the governing Nueva Mayoria coalition.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Christian Schmollinger