SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The workers at state-owned Chilean copper giant Codelco have embarked on a strike, in protest against the miner’s decision to close down its troubled Ventanas smelter. The unions had demanded that the company take necessary action to upgrade the facility so as to ensure its continued smooth operation.
The smelter facility had reported an environmental incident which led to dozens of people falling ill. Following an order issued by the environmental regulator, Codelco had announced its decision to stop smelter operations in order to carry out maintenance and operational adjustments. The temporary stoppage process will be followed by gradual closure process, the company had clarified.
The Workers of Codelco, represented by the Federation of Copper Workers (FTC) and their Base Unions commenced an indefinite nationwide strike, which was joined by around 50,000 copper workers including Codelco’s employees and contractors. The action will continue as long as the government and the Codelco board of directors insist on the closure of Ventanas, said Amador Pantoja, President, FTC.
Responding to the union’s demands, Maximo Pacheco, Chairman of Codelco’s Board noted that the company has been discussing environmental issues related to Ventanas for decades and that the recent decision is not a sudden one.