July 11: workers at the Zaldivar copper mine in Antofagastas, Chile, voted down and 99 percent of their members rejected the collective pay agreement and decided to go on strike on SMM7 15, pending government regulation, Chilean trade unions said Friday.
At a time when Chile's economy is in the doldrums and mining is the country's main income pillar, unions say they are sorry for strikes at this special time. But at the same time, Antofagasta said that Antofagasta tried to deprive workers of their legal rights in the latest negotiations.
The union said it "regretted" the need for a strike when Chile's economy was in the doldrums and mining was one of its main sources of income, but it said (Antofagasta Minerals), the Antofagasta mining company, was trying to divest workers' statutory benefits in the latest negotiations.
Antofagasta said it would seek government-led mediation and would reach an agreement through dialogue in the light of the business situation at the Zaldivar copper mine.
The union said Antofagasta was under the guise of a crisis in the industry.
Chile's main copper miners have basically maintained production since the outbreak. In recent weeks, however, miners have tightened safety regulations, tightened shifts and suspended construction projects as the new crown virus has spread across the country, infecting thousands of miners.
Guillermo Esquivel, head of the Zaldivar union, said workers risked their lives to maintain production at pre-pandemic levels and paid a high price. 'If the mining company does not recognize our contributions and sacrifices, it will face a widespread strike, which will completely stop production, 'the union said in a statement.
The Zaldivar copper mine accounts for about 2% of Chile's annual copper production. The Zaldivar mine produced 58100 tons of copper in 2019. Antofagasta holds a 50 per cent stake in the Zaldivar copper mine and the other part is held by Barrick Gold.
"[attention] Chilean copper miners vote on whether the result of the strike is about to be announced!
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