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12/02  '97  11:42   FAX


Convention No. 29: Forced Labour. 1930

Direct request 1987

Chile (ratification: 1933)

    The Committee takes note of the information furnished by the Government in its report.

    1. In its previous direct request, the Committee referred to the conditions laid down by Legislative Decree No. 150 of 17 August 1981 (sections 43, 44(d), 46, 62 and 63(e)), For entitlement to the unemployment benefit instituted by Legislative Decree No. 603 of 1974. Legislative Decree No. 150 consolidated in one text Legislative Decree No. 603 of 1974 and the amendments introduced by Act No. 18020 of 1981.

    Under the said Legislative Decree, the right to the benefit of workers who have lost their work for reasons beyond their own control is made conditional both on the payment of contributions for 52 weeks or 12 months during the two years preceding the date of loss of employment (section 43(b)) and on the inscription of the unemployed person in the register of unemployed persons that must be kept by every insurance institution (section 43(c)) and also in the register of unemployed persons that must be kept by every municipality with a view to their assignment to relief works for the community (section 43(d)). Under section 44(d), the right to unemployment benefit is lost if the unemployed person refuses to carry out the relief work for the community provided for by section 43(d).

    The Committee notes the Government's view that the work provided for in Legislative Decree No. 150 cannot be described as forced or compulsory labour, since all that is necessary to avoid performing it is not to have oneself inscribed in the registers kept by the corresponding municipality and that, moreover, the provision in question does not lay down penalties.

    The Committee observes that, under section 43(d) of Legislative Decree No. 150, inscription in the register of the municipality is an essential condition for entitlement to the benefit and that, under section 44(d) of the same Legislative Decree, the performance of assistance work can be imposed under the menace of loss of entitlement to the benefit.

    The Committee refers once more to paragraph 21 of its General Survey of 1979 on the abolition of forced labour, in which it points out that the penalty referred to in the definition of "forced or compulsory labour" in Article 2, paragraph 1, of the Convention need not be in the form of penal sanctions, but may take the form of a loss of rights or privileges.

    In the present case, whereas originally - as is usual under social insurance schemes - the right to draw unemployment benefit was acquired by the payment of the requisite contributions, unemployed persons now must undertake work for which they have not offered themselves voluntarily and, if they refuse to perform such work, they lose their entitlement to benefits, a loss which constitutes a penalty within the meaning of the Convention.

    The Committee again asks the Government to review the legislation in question in the light of the above comments and to take the necessary measures to ensure the observance of the Convention in this regard.

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