Monday 1 April 2013

Chilean miners strike after landslip kills worker.

Mineworkers at the Radomiro Tomic Copper Mine in Chile's Atacama Desert downed tools on Saturday 30 March 2013, demanding the removal of company managers the hold responsible for the death of a co-worker, Nelson Barria, who was killed in a landslip at the mine on Saturday 23 March. The mine's General Manager, Francisco Carvajal, has voluntarily stood down, but remains employed by the company and it is unclear if this will appease unions, who have complained of a revolving door culture in which managers quietly return to posts from which they have been removed.

The Radomiro Tomic Mine. La Tercera.

The Radomiro Tomic Mine is operated by the state-owned Codelco mining company. It is situated at an altitude of over 3000 m, and is a relatively new mine; the deposits it works have been known about since the 1950s, but production did not begin till 1995, when rising copper prices and improved mining technology made excavation at the remote site viable. The mine produces about 2.5% of the world's annual copper production, or about 25% of the Chilean total (approximately 428 000 tonnes last year), though production has dropped in the last two years, as have many Chilean mines. Coldelco is planning around US$25 billion in modernizing facilities across the country over the next decade.

The Chilean Copper Workers’ Federation has threatened to expand the strike across the country if it's demands are not met. The union is unhappy about creeping privatization of the organization; the company's healthcare system has been privatized and many jobs are now being outsourced. They are demanding a return to full nationalization of facilities, along with better job security and pensions.

This comes amid deteriorating industrial relations within other parts of the company; workers at the Codelco-owned Angamos Port have been on strike over working conditions since mid-March.

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