| SANTIAGO, April 9
SANTIAGO, April 9 Unionized workers at Chilean
state miner Codelco began a 24-hour work stoppage early Tuesday
at all units of the world's top copper miner to demand greater
job security and safety improvements, labor leaders told
But workers at private mines, including BHP Billiton
, Anglo American and Antofagasta Minerals
, only partially went along with the call for a national
strike, even though the union representing them initially said
it would join the labor action.
"The strike is under way and it has been a success," said
Jaime Graz, union leader at Codelco's giant Chuquicamata mine.
"This is a call to attention to the company's management because
of the poor security conditions and urgent need for pension and
healthcare improvements. It's not just about making more money."
Codelco, which owns about 11 percent of the
world's copper reserves, is expected to produce 1.7 million
tonnes of copper this year, or just under 5,000 tonnes per day.
Protesting workers delayed the start of the 8 a.m. (1100
GMT) shift by two hours at BHP Billiton's Escondida, the world's
largest copper mine, and blocked the access road to Anglo
American's Los Bronces mine.
"The workers adhered to the protest, but only for a limited
amount of time, a couple of hours. This isn't an action against
the company, it's a protest for the problems which at the
national level haven't been resolved," said Marcelo Tapia, head
of Escondida's union.
Top executives at Anglo American and Antofagasta said there
could be some shift delays at their local mines, but operations
were functioning normally.
Operations "are functioning ... there might be some delay in
the start of the shifts, but operations are functioning,"
Antofagasta Chief Executive Diego Hernandez said.
Workers at the world's No. 3 copper mine, Collahuasi in the
Andean nation's copper-rich north, decided not to strike and
operations there are normal, a union leader said.
This suggests differences between union leaders prompted
private miners to reduce their involvement in the planned
"We're not going to participate in this strike because it's
an exploitation of workers' demands ... Collahuasi's operations
are normal," Collahuasi union secretary Lincon Espinoza told
Collahuasi is owned by Anglo American Plc, Xstrata
Plc and a group of Japanese companies led by Mitsui & Co
Chile is expected to produce 5.58 million tonnes of copper
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