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Chile finally ratifies ILO C176 on mine safety

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4 July, 2024After years of campaigning by IndustriALL and its affiliates, the government of Chile has ratified ILO Convention 176. Unions in the country welcome this important step towards a safer mining industry.

In a step towards increased health and safety in the mining industry, Chile is now one of 35 countries to have ratified ILO C176. The Convention establishes a legal and inspection framework to promote safety in mines and a dignified working environment. It also gives workers the right to elect independent safety representatives and the right to refuse dangerous work.

According to accident statistics in the extractive mining industry from the Chilean government's National Geology and Mining Service, 13 people died in mining accidents in 2023, and four so far this year. IndustriALL affiliates in Chile, like Constramet-Industrial Chile, have been pushing for ratification of C176 for years and have been actively involved in IndustriALL’s campaign.

“Chile is an important country in the global mining industry as the largest copper-producer. We were expecting Chile's ratification of C176 after the Copiapó mining accident in 2010 when 33 miners were trapped 700 meters underground for 69 days. The Chilean government then made a public committment to ratify C176.

"After 14 years, the commitment has been delivered. It's now time to work on making Chilean mines safer, with the presence and involvement of trade unions,”

said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.

Chile's minister of labour and social security, Jeannette Alejandra Jara Román, presented the ratification instrument to ILO director-general Gilbert Houngbo on 14 June at ILO in Geneva, Switzerland. The Convention will enter into force Chile in twelve months.

"Convention 176 strengthens our mining safety and health standards, which is particularly relevant considering the mining nature of Chile and the essential contribution of that economic sector to the well-being of its population,”

said Jeannette Alejandra Jara Román.

Gilbert Houngbo said:

"Miners often work in some of the most complex and dangerous environments and are exposed to a large number of accidents and occupational diseases. The Convention is tailor-made for such environments, as it provides a modern regulatory approach to dealing with hazardous workplaces such as mines. It requires governments to formulate a coherent policy on safety and health in mines, in consultation with employers' and workers' organisations."

Photo: Copper mine Radomiro Tomic, Región II de Antofagasta, Chile. Flickr.