SANTIAGO, Chile Unions
representing about 25,000 workers in Chiles major copper
mines called a 24-hour strike April 9, and threatened a further
stoppage depending on the governments response.
"It is 100-percent confirmed.
Workers from state and private mining companies will take part.
Well see the response (of the government and private
sector). If nothing changes, we may set another stoppage," Juan
Olguín, mediation and organization secretary of the
Chilean Copper Workers Federation, said.
The widely anticipated strike,
called by the federation and the Mining Federation of
Chile (FMC), was aimed at mines run by state-owned
Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) as
well as Antofagasta Plcs Los Pelambres Mine, BHP Billiton
Plcs Escondida Mine, Xstrata Coppers Collahuasi and
Anglo American Sur, among others.
Workers are protesting the
hiring of subcontracted workers and want better working
conditions, with improved safety and increased pensions.
"This united mobilization has a
great historical importance as, for the first time, both
organizations, representing workers from state and private
mining (entities), are putting the union of the syndicate in
action, coordinating a mobilization plan (and) aiming to
fulfill demands of all miners and Chilean workers,"
the federation said.
Workers at private companies,
however, were expected to delay the start of their first shifts
instead of stopping for the whole day, according to Chilean
newspaper La Tercera.
"It seems workers from many
private companies will not join this illegal strike. It will
affect production, bonus(es) ... days not worked are not paid,"
a Chilean mining company official said. "It is an ongoing issue
and under evaluation."
"We dont know whether the
unions will participate 100 percent or whether it is just union
rhetoric," an executive from another mining company said.
Workers at Codelcos
Radomiro Tomic open-pit mine held a four-day strike in late
March following the death of a worker in a landslide.
Carolina Guerra, São
Paulo, contributed to this article, a version of which was
first published by AMM sister publication Metal