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The Labour Movement

Workers were instrumental in providing solidarity with Chileans in danger. Immediately after the coup, many unions wrote to the Trades Union Congress to express their concern for the political effect on workers of the uprising in Chile. Unions from around the country came together to pressure the government into denouncing the military regime. Workers across the UK staged protests, pickets and embargoes in order to demonstrate their solidarity with Allende’s democratic government and those threatened by repression. Many companies who were known to trade with Chile were boycotted and picketed. For example, the shoe company Ravel was known to sell Chilean shoes. In 1976 more than twenty branches across the UK were picketed.

The UK continued with a “business as usual” approach with regards to trading with Chile. This angered many workers who disrupted production in protest. Such was the case with dockers, particularly in the Liverpool area, who refused to unload ships that had come from Chile in the aftermath of the coup.

The company British Leyland faced questioning from its workers in 1973 when it gifted the military junta 4 cars. Whilst Lord Stokes claimed that this was a collection for the “education of children whose parents were casualties of the recent upheavals” (see document below), workers were not convinced by this explanation. Longbridge factory, Birmingham, was one of the sections that staged a protest in response to the company’s ‘gift’.