Chilean copper mine workers on strike over privatization concern

08:31, July 12, 2011      

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Chile's Federation of Copper Workers (FTC) on Monday said its almost 16,000 members are joining a strike by close to 30,000 workers subcontracted by the Codelco mining corporation, the biggest copper miner in the world.

The strike is staged to protest the restructuring of the state- run company, a process which the workers consider to be a " privatization."

"I think it has been a trade union discipline at national level, " FTC President Raimundo Espinoza told a local radio station.

Codelco has almost 30,000 sub-contracted workers on their payroll and all copper producing activities have since the onset of the strike been paralyzed at the mines of Radomiro Tomic, Gabriela Mistral, Chuquicamata, El Salvador, Ventanas, El Teniente and Andina, Espinoza said.

The Chilean government recently presented an investment plan for Codelco, which is worth 17.348 billion U.S. dollars through 2015, and seek to implement a "transformation plan" of the mines and productive processes.

"We see that there is a covered privatization, and we are going to hand over all the evidence of the precedents to the Inspectors' Office, the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the presidents of all the political parties," Espinoza said.

"This is a work stoppage and will serve as a warning about all the topics of concern that we have presented to Codelco about the privatization, and for the government which has given very few resources for training," Espinoza said.

The Chilean government has said that the workers' fears are unfounded and there are no plans of privatizing the mining operations.

On Friday, Codelco's President Diego Hernandez said that in case of a full-blown strike Chile will see a drop in copper production of "about 4,900 tons of copper at a loss of 41 million dollars" from the Codelco mines that account for about 9 percent of total world copper demand.

Source: Xinhua
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