Chilean government reneges on mine safety standards


ICEM and IMF demand reform of mine health and safety in Chile, starting with the ratification of ILO Convention 176, the Safety and Health in Mines Convention. Join in and send a message to the Chilean government through LabourStart today.

CHILE: Immediately following the successful rescue of 33 copper miners in Chile on October 13, 2010, President Sebastián Piñera proclaimed to the world that within 90 days Chile would begin reformation of its frayed and massively de-centralised mine safety laws, as well as adopt global mine safety standards, namely ratification of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 176, the Safety and Health in Mines Convention.

Early this year in Santiago, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy & Mine Workers‚ Federation (ICEM) met with senior leaders of the Piñera administration. The Chilean officials were blunt and candid: the government will pursue neither internal revisions or adopt global mine safety standards.

This week the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) has joined with ICEM in calling on its affiliates and activists around the world to demand reform. The action includes a LabourStart campaign where you can send messages directly to the Chilean government demanding it improve health and safety in the mining industry and ratify ILO Convention 176.

Trade unions affiliated to the IMF are also encouraged to send a letter on their union's letterhead (a copy of the letter is published here in English, French, Spanish and Russian) and do three things:

  1. e-mail it to: [email protected], [email protected]
  2. fax it to: +56 2 687 9339 / +56 2 690 4138
  3. post it to:

Honourable Sebastián Piñera
Republic of Chile
Palacio de La Moneda
Teatinos 120 Pisa 9
8340382 Santiago

Please also be sure to e-mail a copy to: [email protected]

Both ICEM and IMF believe that the principles inside Convention 176 can and will provide the framework for revising the mine safety laws in Chile. For example, there is no room now for trade union health/safety committees to play a role in Chile's mining industry. That is an inherent part of Convention 176. And it is a universal fact that when a union safety committee is engaged with a mining company and an official regulatory agency, the risks in mining get reduced dramatically.