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Chilean public and private sector miners unite in national strike

10 April, 2013The Federación de Trabajadores del Cobre (FTC) and the Federación Minera de Chile (FMC), which together represent more than 25,000 workers at the state-owned copper company CODELCO and private sector mining companies, held a national strike on Tuesday 9 April.

The national copper miners’ strike is a warning to all CODELCO’s divisions, including its head office, and private sector mining companies, that the unions are keen to begin negotiations on their demands.

In a joint press release issued by the FTC, affiliated to IndustriALL and the FMC, the federations said that, for the first time, “we are putting trade union unity in action into practice, and working together to gradually increase the pressure on the employers to respond to demands that are keenly felt by miners and all workers.”

The miners are demanding decent pensions and an end to the current pension funds system; nationalization of copper and lithium mines to generate the national income required to provide free quality education, health services and fair pensions; an end to the ill-treatment of workers; legislation to ensure respect for labour rights and the implementation of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions; improvements in occupational health and an end to accidents at work.

The unions are also demanding compliance with the law on subcontracting and an end to unregulated outsourcing. "We say no to outsourcing and yes to insourcing in the production and strategic areas of the companies", said the unions.

In addition to the general demands outlined above, the federations and their member unions will bring forward other more specific and local demands from their own workplaces.

They are calling on the government, CODELCO and private sector mining companies to address the just and legitimate demands of miners in Chile. "This action is designed to promote talks and obtain concrete solutions to our demands, whether that involves drafting new legislation, preparing a determined inspection plan or responding favourably to the points raised in relation to the individual companies. If there is no evidence of the employers showing the political will necessary to give concrete responses to our just demands within a reasonable period of time, we will continue to step up our preparations for action” concluded the press release.

IndustriALL Global Union supports the struggle of the Chilean miners’ demands for decent work. It also calls on affiliates in Chile and the rest of the world to offer their solidarity to this unified movement and support its attempts to advance the interests of Chilean workers.