Miners’ Strike in the Midst of the Chilean Rebellion

In the midst of the popular rebellion that crosses the country, Miners of La Escondida are going to strike. Let’s go for the General Strike!
We copy here the statement of the Union Nº1 of Miners from La Escondida:
Today the country is going through harsh, critical times. A legitimate social explosion took place, an accumulation of contained anger for blows, inequality, lack of hope and uncertainty about the future. Workers are an integral part of this society, and more: we are the core of the working population. Before the serious events of this past week, we cannot remain silent and immobile facing our struggling people.
You know this contained anger very well, and you live it every day. Some more than others, but it is there, alive, latent in each one of our families, relatives and friends. This explosion of anger is not because of the Metro price increase, which was only the trigger of this cancer of injustices that workers face on a daily basis. It is important to see clearly how this government and capitalist system oppress us. Sometimes we are incapable of seeing it because we are used to the political and business’ bondage, and our evident necessities are disguised under the indebtedness of our families.
We have an AFP [Private Retirement System] which is a robbery. The money goes to banks and companies and then we ask for a loan, which huge interest rates. The profits go to the AFPs and its owners, but we, workers, assume the liabilities. When we are older, tired and ill, we will receive a nothing but a misery pension.
We know very well that health has a price and who has no money just dies. We pay major amounts of money per month in contributions and insurance, yet we still have to pay when we are sick and need assistance. Look next to you, comrades. Break your individual bubble and see how many of your parents, children, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, are indebted because they have no other way to heal but to pay what they do not have. How many children died in miserable hospitals because they could not pay for a better care to survive?
Comrades, think of what education and legacy are you leaving to your children. Your relatives, sons and daughters, access a mediocre education system that prepares them to be cheap labor force. You pay to educate your children but the children of the rich and powerful go to the best universities in Chile. The same universities that our working parents built with effort and lots of work. Workers’ children cannot access these universities because someone else is taking advantage of it.
Comrades… the bottom of Chile’s problems is not the lack of resources. On the contrary, we have plenty of resources. The problem is that they are stolen by big transnational companies like BHP. Just as an example, of Chile’s mineral resources, only 25% of the profit stay in the country and the rest is “legally” stolen by great transnational companies that take advantage of the pro-business national legislation. They have been doing this shamelessly for years. It is in those resources that our pensions are; the operations and medical aids for our people not to die; the free, quality education that our children deserve and to which we had no access.
What will we do, comrades, before this cruel reality? Will we close our eyes or look away? How many of our children are now demonstrating out there in the streets? How many of our parents are struggling, our wives and husbands, nephews, brothers, etc.? We have to be aware of what is happening. Unfortunately, we know history very well, and we know what the Armed Forces in the streets mean.
Will we just be aware of this reality when one of our closest ones is killed, after regretting it, and just then understand the importance of fighting together for a better future? There is only one power that no one can take away from us; that no one can force on us, and that no one is capable of having, but us: the power of producing. There are no profits, no machines functioning, no harvest or food, if not by the hands of workers. This is the greatest power of all. It is safe, pacific, classist, and sets fraternity among our people.
This Union has a social responsibility, for being the biggest Union of private mining, producing in the biggest mine of the world, for the most powerful transnational of this industry. We have a history of struggle and loyalty to remember, and today that history demands us to set an example for all the national mining industry, private and public. We need to paralyze the operation for the safety of our people, people from the periphery that must travel to get home. We must paralyze for the unbearable concern about what is happening in our country, where our families are an active part of this social movement. All of this relying in the Article 184 of the Labor Code.
But the most valuable and important reason to paralyze is that we are part of the working class that is suffering. This began in Santiago, and the entire country, from Arica to Punta Arenas, went onto the streets to defend themselves. We cannot continue working and making these powerful companies produce as if nothing is going on, knowing that they are colluded with the government that attacks us and oppresses us. We cannot be outside this process, because history will sentence us as cowards and accomplices of these blows to the working class. And the most intimate and felt reason why we cannot stay apart from this is that we will not be able to look at our own family in the face -mainly our children, which are today in this struggle- without knowing that we did nothing to support and defend them, when such power is in our hands.
Miners, let’s stop all Chilean mining, together with other productive segments, until they take the military and oppressive forces off the streets, and until the government is available for a dialogue as equals with our people that claims justice, equality, job opportunities and a dignified life.
Fraternal Greetings,
Directory of the Union Nº1 of Mine La Escondida Workers.

Leave a Reply