Chilean Miners Launch Fresh Wave of Protests
The Chilean mining giant Codelco was hit by a new round of labor strikes. The world’s largest copper producer Codelco was forced to shut down operations at its Chuquicamata mine after contract workers launched protests demanding better salaries and improved working conditions. Miners from Chile’s largest copper union, CTC, which represents around 40,000 workers, put up barriers to block access to roads leading to various Codelco mining sites. The fresh wave of demonstrations took place after a breakdown in negotiations between labor representatives and Codelco management officials. “Our workers engaged in labor actions after Codelco failed to meet worker demand following months of talks and negotiations in order to solve the labor conflict,” the CTC stated Wednesday. The company has refused to increase subcontractor salaries, claiming it will result in financial losses as copper prices fall, according to the union. The labor dispute escalated last July after a fatal shooting of a demonstrator by security forces at the El Salvador mine, which sparked a three-week strike causing financial losses of US$20 million and production losses of 8,000 tons of copper. The most recent labor action ocurrs as state-owned mining company, Codelco, is in the process of cutting costs due to low copper prices. Copper exports are a key source of government income and Chile's main export. The country produced around 31 percent of global copper output in 2014.