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Chilean copper workers announce national strike

20 March, 2013The Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), affiliated to IndustriALL, has called a national strike at state-owned CODELCO in support of demands for job security, dignified pensions and renationalization of the copper mines.

At the end of an extraordinary congress of the federation on Friday 15 March, Raimundo Espinoza, FTC president and IndustriALL executive committee member, announced that the strike will take place within the next 30 days. Meetings to plan the strike will start on Thursday at the Chuquicamata division and will continue with meetings at other units in the country.

The FTC issued a communiqué stating that it was suspending relations with the company administration because it was tired of company management’s overbearing, arrogant and shamelessly inefficient attitude to its workers and the country. The union is unhappy about mistakes made by company management, privatization of its health system, outsourcing of some jobs and the company’s failure to develop the potential of its mines.

Espinoza said the union will not backtrack on its decision about the strike, which will last 24 hours and will be extended depending on the company's response. The unions communiqué states:

We demand a new authentic mining and energy policy for Chile. We demand full respect for our rights and agreements, especially the fundamental right to health. We demand that CODELCO management reverses its decision to secretly embark on a bid to privatize health services.

The FTC will now focus on developing its action plan and maintaining a united front with the trade union central CUT, the federations and unions in the strategic mining, energy and manufacturing sectors, and with the international trade union movement through IndustriALL Global Union. They will also coordinate action with sectors of civil society, including students, regional movements, environmentalists and pensioners’ associations.