Chile: Trapped miners to go unpaid

September 18, 2010

Thirty-three miners trapped 700 metres underground in northern Chile have been told they will not be paid in coming months, despite the fact it is expected to take close to two-and-a-half months to pull them out.

Representatives of the San Esteban mining company told the workers’ union that no guarantees can be given that the wages of those miners stuck underground since August 5 will be paid. The company insists it is bankrupt.

The union has called on the government to guarantee the wages of the trapped miners as well as the about 100 other workers at the mine who are now out of work.

On September 13, PBS NewsHour reported the mine had already been ordered to shut down in 2007, after more than 180 miners were injured the year before.

Despite union protests, it reopened less than a year later.

Luis Rubina, a former worker at the mine, told PBS NewsHour that the company consistently refused to follow government-mandated safety rules.

Independent gold miner Aladina Oliveres said that the real problem was that the sole concern of the mine owners and government was revenue, not the safety of workers.

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