Group Plans To Pressure Companies And Politicians In Time For Dec. 13 Elections
Representatives from three of Chileâ€™s biggest mining uniona announced last week that workers in public and private copper mines will combine forces in the fight for better wages and working conditions for 8,000 of the nationâ€™s mining workers.
Copper mine workers from privately-owned mines Cerro Colorado, FundaciÃ³n Altonorte, as well as Escondida, the biggest copper mine in the world, teamed up with workers from state-run CODELCO â€“ from the divisions Codelco Norte, Andina and Ventanas â€“ in the talks.
Union presidents from Codelco Norte, Minera Escondida and Altonorte said that conditions, including high copper prices, should allow unions to negotiate for better terms. They also noted that contract talks will occur around the time of the upcoming presidential election. This would allow the copper unions, which historically have supported presidential candidates from the center-left ruling ConcertaciÃ³n coalition, to put pressure on the government for their demands.
The timing was also serendipitous, they said, as this was the first time that CODELCOâ€™s most important mines were negotiating at the same time as unions from big private companies.
â€œWe know that the businesses will try to break the movement, but unlike 2006, this time thereâ€™s a strong feeling all around [the union] that we have a right to improve income and quality of life in education, housing, and especially health,â€ Alto Norte Union President Abdiel SepÃºlveda said to La Tercera.
A month ago, privately-owned Xstrata mine said during contract negotiations that it lacked resources to improve wages or give bonuses.
SOURCE: LA TERCERA
By Daniel Zarchy ( firstname.lastname@example.org)