Teachers joined a general strike on Thursday called to demand a decent minimum wage, the nationalisation of copper to fund education, decent funding for all public services and an end to the stranglehold of neo-liberal policies on the country.

Chile has been characterised by years of protests, led by students, for free education in the country. It was the first education system in the world to be privatised, when the dictator Augusto Pinochet came to power in a bloody coup in 1973 and invited Chicago trained neo-liberal economists to try out their theories in the country. Chile's education system has never recovered. Only last week we reported on the amazing courage of schoolchildren occupying their schools, in defiance of the security forces, against these policies.

Thursday's strike represented once again the drawing together of workers, including teachers, with the students' struggle. One students told the I love Chile website:  “We are fighting for a different education! Knowledge needs to be accessible to everyone. This implies a non-charged education. We have been fighting for a long time now and we don’t want to wait any longer! With pressure from the street we want to force the government to change its way of thinking."

The other main demands of Thursday's strike were a new labour law framework - the present laws are all on the side of the employers with no real rights to collectively bargain or strike - and a properly funded public pension system.

Meanwhile Sebastian Pinera - the right wing billionaire president of Chile - who faces the electorate later this year - is once again trying to force through bills to stamp down on protest. His latest bill seeks to give police the right to demand to know the identity of any person near a 'vulnerable public area' such as a hospital or other public building.