SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s largest labor union called a nationwide strike on Thursday to demand improved labor conditions and tax reform, but officials said only a small percentage of workers participated.
Small groups of hooded protesters set up flaming barricades ahead of the strike, blocking morning traffic. They also threw firebombs and torched a public transit bus in the capital Santiago. Police arrested 24 people, but no injuries were reported.
The Central Union of Workers condemned the early-morning violence. Students and copper miners later joined thousands of workers in largely peaceful marches along the streets, chanting and waving banners.
Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick reported that only 6.4 percent of all public workers, or about 10,000 out of 161,000, joined the strike.
Chile has fast economic growth and solid institutions. But the world’s top copper producer is also plagued by vast income inequality and an expensive education system that many deem unfair.
Education and tax reform remain key issues ahead of the No. 17 presidential election.