[QODLink]
Americas

Strike stops work at Chile copper mine

Operations at Escondida halted as workers press their demand for improved working conditions and a bonus.

Last Modified: 15 Aug 2013 14:40
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Workers of Escondida launched a 24-hour strike demanding an annual bonus among other requests [AFP]

Workers at the world's largest copper mine, in northern Chile, have begun an unexpected strike to demand improved working conditions and a bonus.

The work stoppage at Escondida mine, which employs an estimated 2,500 workers, began on Wednesday and was initially planned to last 24 hours.

"We're going to wait until tomorrow to see if the company gives us any signals. Once we meet we'll decide whether to extend the protest or take another type of action," Marcelo Tapia, a union representative, said.

The strike began after management refused to pay an annual bonus that is not covered in workers' contracts, which last year totalled approximately $5,000 per worker.

Tapia said workers are also asking for a system to keep track of overtime and the removal of surveillance cameras from inside mining lorries.

According to a union representative, all operations had been halted at the mine which is majority owned by BHP Billiton of Australia.

Management had no immediate comment on the strike.

The mine's union upset the copper market in 2011 by staging a two-week work stoppage, drastically reducing the mine's output.

Labour action has become common in Chile as workers seek to get their issues heard before the November presidential election.

Chile is the largest copper producer in the world, providing nearly one-third of global supply.

214

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.