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Industrial Chile sponsors bill to declare lithium a strategic national resource

10 May, 2016Industrial Chile, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, and the Confederation of Copper Workers (CTC) are sponsoring a bill to declare the Chemical and Mining Company of Chile (Sociedad Química Y Minería de Chile S. A. – SQM) and the production and commercialization of lithium to be a strategic national resource.

On 3 May, representatives of Industrial Chile and the CTC, along with PC IC deputies Daniel Núñez and Karol Cariola, submitted a bill to declare lithium and SQM a strategic national resource.

Historically, this is a crucial step in attempts to recover the company. It is also extremely important for us because SQM persecutes our trade union

said the general secretary of Industrial Chile  (Constramet), Miguel Soto.

Soto also said that Industrial Chile has for some time been in dispute with Ponce Lerou’s companies. He said these companies are guilty of anti-trade union practices and recalled that the Supreme Court ruled against them for attacking collective bargaining and violating the constitution.

If the bill is approved, the company will be declared a strategic national resource, at which point the Chilean government will be able to legally intervene to stop any violations of trade union rights. If the company and lithium are declared to be strategic national resources, this will allow the government to diversify the use of Chile’s minerals and influence production of this material, which is strategically important for the country’s development.

“Lithium is a strategically important mineral for Chile in both economic and energy terms. The country’s salt flats are the biggest deposit of this resource and occur in the form of brine, which facilitates production at the lowest cost in the world” states the bill.

IndustriAll’s assistant regional secretary, Marino Vani, said:

“This is an excellent trade union initiative to regulate and determine the production and use of the country’s natural resources. The union does not restrict itself to making demands for higher pay. Its initiative aims to distribute the country’s wealth and achieve equity and social and economic justice in Chile”.