Chilean miners’ anti-unemployment protest

Unemployment in Chile

More than 300 Chilean workers jobless due to the closure of the San Jose mine, made famous by the recent rescue of 33 trapped miners, have threatened to occupy “Camp Hope” near the mine until they receive severance pay: here.

The editorial pages of two of the most prominent newspapers of the US ruling establishment rushed to claim the recent rescue of the 33 miners in Chile as a triumph for free-market capitalism: here.

Capitalism didn’t save Chilean miners: here.

Over 3,500 employees of Chilean pharmacy chain Farmacias Ahumada continued their strike and pickets at store locations nationwide. Holding banners and picket signs, striking employees demonstrate daily and talk to customers about their demands: here.

Chilean Miners : What was the TV Show hiding? Here.

CHILE: Documentary Reveals Injustices Endured by Mapuches – and Filmmaker: here.

Diplomatic Gaffe: Chilean President Wrote ‘Deutschland Über Alles’ in German Guest Book: here.

Easter Islanders Seek U.N. Intervention in Dispute with Chile: here.

8 thoughts on “Chilean miners’ anti-unemployment protest

  1. FEDERICO QUILODRAN Associated Press Writer

    October 19, 2010|1:02 p.m.

    SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A Chilean legislative commission is investigating reports that mining operators ignored danger warnings from a man who was later among 33 later trapped when a mine collapsed.

    Deputy Carlos Vilches, a commission member, said Tuesday that miner Juan Illanes has alleged that operators refused his request to leave the mine three hours before it collapsed on Aug. 5. Illanes reportedly had heard loud sounds that indicated a collapse could be brewing.

    Vilches spoke at the opening of a public exhibit of the capsule used in last week’s rescue of the miners after 69 days underground, an achievement that served as a rallying point of national pride. The exhibit in the plaza outside Chile’s presidential palace is drawing hundreds of people.

    Vilches represents Copiapo, the community closest to the San Jose Mine where the collapse occurred. He said he would call Illanes and other miners to testify before the commission about conditions at the mine.

    Another worker, Gino Cortez, lost his leg in a smaller collapse inside the San Jose Mine in July.

    The mining company’s owners and supervisors of the mining operation are under investigation in connection with the earlier accident.

    A spokesperson for the San Esteban mining company that owns the mine said the firm would have no comment pending possible legal proceedings.

    “It’s simply incredible that even in the face of the miners’ warnings, measures were not taken to prevent the accident, and to ensure that they were not in the mine when the collapse occurred,” said Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter.

    The minister oversaw a ceremony opening the exhibit of the Phoenix 2 capsule, which was used to rescue the men. Government employees could view the capsule up close, and even pose next to it for photographs, but the public had to view it from several yards (meters) away.

    Painted in the red, white and blue of the Chilean flag, the capsule showed only a few scratches from its multiple trips down and up a tight tunnel to extract the 33 men and their six rescuers.

    At least two cities are vying to become the permanent home for that capsule. One is Copiapo, about 50 miles west of the mine. The other is Talcahuano, 1,300 miles south, where officials feel entitled to it because the capsules were built there at a Chilean navy workshop.

    Hinzpeter has suggested it will probably end up at a mining museum.

    Three capsules were assigned for the rescue operation, but only two were used. They were named for the mythological bird reborn from the ashes. The other two capsules were not used but are also to be displayed. One has already been sent to China, where it will be exhibited at the Chilean Pavilion at Expo Shanghai.


  2. Two workers killed in mine blast

    CHILE: A mine accident killed two workers on Monday in the same northern region where 33 miners were rescued last month after 69 days underground.

    Police say the two victims at Los Reyes mine were 24 and 40 years old, and Monday was their first day on the job. A third worker suffered an eye injury.

    Preliminary reports suggest the accident may have been caused by a premature dynamite blast.


  3. Miners Dig In at Chile’s Collahuasi Copper Strike

    The copper-mining strike by 1,551 members of Sindicato de los Trabajadores de Collahuasi in Chile enters its second week today, with miners emboldened by both fervent loyalty among union ranks and knowledge that company rhetoric concerning ongoing production is a deception for the benefit of world copper markets.

    The company is Doña Ines de Collahuasi, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, owned by global mining giants Xstrata and AngloAmerican, with a smaller share held by Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui & Co.

    Since the strike began on 5 November, the Collahuasi Workers’ Union has been united in a stand that most assuredly will bring them a fair share of the mine’s profits and more importantly, improved social provisions for their families. The ICEM has pledged global support to the union (see letter in Spanish) and commends Chilean mining unions for doing the same inside the South American nation.

    Just One of the Daily Manifestations in Iquique

    The union asked management to resume negotiations last week but the company refused, saying it would not re-enter talks without assistance from government mediators.

    Even though Doña Ines de Collahuasi managers say publicly the open-cast Rosario mine is operating normally under a strike contingency plan, union spokesman Luis Espinoza Garrido told the ICEM the fallacious contingency plan consists of 300 scab workers from outsource companies providing output of no more than 18% of total production.

    “Three hundred inexperienced workers cannot do the work of 1,550 miners,” said Espinoza. “This is unsustainable and the company will come to realise this.”

    Espinoza said the strike is about far more than just pay and bonuses. He said key issues include health benefits, education for miners’ children, and work schedules. Considering Collahuasi vast profits – net earnings last year totalled US$ 1.56 billion – the union wants company-paid health costs raised from the current 80% to 100% and education costs hiked from 50% to 100%.

    Strikers are Living in Santa María School

    A major concern is the health of miners. The Collahuasi mine, located in the Atacama desert in Chile’s remote Region I, finds miners working at an altitude of 4,000 metres where oxygen levels are low and stress levels on the body are high. A US$750 million mine expansion is also underway that will lift production from 550,000 tonnes per year to a million tonnes annually, with altitudes expected to reach 5,000 metres in new mining areas.

    Another concern is silicosis. Because of massive dust clouds at the mine containing crystalline silica particles, miners are endangered by the deadly lung disease.

    Miners work seven days on, seven days off, and a further point of contention is management’s proposed changes to exceptional days off.

    Since day one of the strike, most of the 1,551 strikers have taken up residency in the shuttered Santa María School in the Pacific port city of Iquique, 285 kilometres from the mine. In Iquique, both Doña Ines de Collahuasi managers and local governmental authorities siding with management accuse squatting miners of displacing the activities of youngsters.

    Strikers Watch Children’s Sports Class Activities at School

    In fact, the opposite is true. Strikers are encouraging children’s activities and yesterday, 14 November, the union held a community cultural event in the closed school.

    The Collahuasi Workers’ Union has taken their protests to the streets of Iquique each and every day. On 11 October, 800 strikers occupied the offices of the company in Iquique, headquarters for the company, and have protested at a company molybdenum plant just south of there in the port town of Patache.

    On 10 October, mine union leaders from BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto’s Escondida copper mine, BHP’s Spence and Cerro Colorado mines, Canadian Aur Resources Quebrado Blanca mine, Xstrata’s Lomas Bayas mine, Canadian Castle Rock Resources Sierra Miranda mine, and Chile’s Minera Cerro Dominador conducted a manifestation with the striking Collahuasi miners at the Santa María School.


  4. Copper mine strike could end soon

    CHILE: Officials at the mammoth Collahuasi copper mine sat down for a second day of talks with union leaders today amid hopes on both sides for a deal to end a 27-day strike over wages.

    The company offered to restart contract talks after workers ignored a $29,000 bonus offer that bosses said would have ended the deadlock.

    Workers at Collahuasi extract 3.3 per cent of the world’s mined copper, or 535,000 tonnes a year.


  5. Chilean mineworkers return to work after three-day strike

    Workers at the Chilean molybdenum mine complex Molymet returned to work Thursday, June 2 after a strike called on Monday in rejection of the company’s collective contract proposal.

    Molybdenum is found mostly as a byproduct of copper and is used to strengthen steel. Molymet is the world’s main producer of molybdenum.

    A company statement issued on June 1 stated, “The union…and the enterprise have signed a new contract that will regulate common working conditions and remuneration for a period of four years.” No other details were forthcoming.


  6. Pingback: Pablo Neruda poem on birding | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Chilean workers fight privatisation | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Chilean mine disaster bosses get away scot-free | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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