Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype
Article placeholder image

Chilean copper workers' dispute worsens

4 April, 2013The death of a CODELCO worker, Nelson Barría, on Wednesday 27 March, caused by a landslide at the Radomiro Tomic opencast mine, has aggravated the dispute between workers and the state-owned mining company.

After Nelson Barría’s death, the union convened a meeting that voted for a strike in protest at their colleague’s death. The union called for the dismissal of the Radomiro Tomic division’s general manager. The Copper Workers’ Federation (FTC), affiliated to IndustriALL, gave its total backing to the union at the Radomiro Tomic division.

On Saturday 30 March, the company closed the plant as it remained at a standstill. However, the following day, Thomas Keller, CODELCO’s chief executive officer (CEO) accepted the resignation of Francisco Carvajal, general manager of the Radomiro Tomic division.

The FTC said it called for Carvajal’s resignation because management did not act responsibly in the light of a series of safety warnings made prior to the accident.

FTC president, Raimundo Espinoza, explained that, in the light of the manager’s resignation, the workers had decided to return to work on the opening shift of 1 April. He said that they are not willing to accept the arrogant and over-bearing attitude of CODELCO managers and added that “regrettably we have had four fatal accidents at CODELCO in the last four months”.

“We are not happy about going on strike, but these people don’t understand anything else. The managers do not listen, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Some of the managers in this company ignore the conditions in which people are working and the result is this kind of accident”, said Espinoza.

Regarding the planned national strike, Espinoza explained that “as in 2011, we will continue to prepare for a strike because the managers don’t want to listen” adding that “all divisions” are discussing a date for the strike.

Finally, he called on CODELCO managers “to learn to listen so we can avoid all these problems. The CEO said that strikes don’t solve anything, but some people only understand it if you take action and I want this to serve as an example”.