There have been ongoing strikes since July 21th 2015 by contract workers in the copper mining industry in Chile. State-owned Codelco, biggest copper producer in Chile and owner of the mines targeted by the protesters had to halt the Chuquicamata and Ministro Hales mines and put a stop to daily production because the strikes had overtaken. Protesters have blocked access roads to the mines and attacked vehicles. The situation escalated on July 24th 2015 when a worker was shot dead by a police officer near the Salvador mine in northern Chile.1
The contract workers, who are part of the Confederation of Copper Workers (CTC), are protesting because of the working conditions and regulations discrepancies between them and direct employees. They demand the same benefits packages and wages.
Codelco does not agree to these demands and denies responsibility by pointing to the companies actually employing the workers. The protesters are mostly cleaners, drivers and some miners. Codelco and the contractor companies both agree that raising benefits and wages for the workers is not doable at the moment because of the low copper prices and decreasing industry. The CTC on the other hand accuses the companies of trickery and manipulating the public opinion. They demand for the government to get involved and find a direct path of communication to Codelco.
The copper giant Codelco is currently in the process of searching for new high-grade copper deposits in order to expand older mines which involve a $25 billion investment plan.
60% of Chile’s export produce is copper and makes up 15% of the GDP. Over the past years copper has lost 11% of its value.
As of August 4th 2015, Codelco has indeed agreed to talks but will not negotiate about benefits packages or wage increases.2
- http://www.mining.com/codelco-halts-worlds-largest-open-pit-copper-mine-over-strike/?utm_source=digest-en-mining-150728&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digest (accessed 03.08.15) [↩]
- http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/03/chile-mine-protests-idUSL1N10E0TJ20150803 (accessed 04.08.15) [↩]