Chile - El Teniente Miners Strike

For an indefinite strike of the contract workers of the El Teniente mine and a Workers’ national congress of rank and file delegates!

To all the contract workers of Andina of the Andes, Chuquicamata in Calama, Ventana in the V Region, all the privatised mines of the country, and all the sectors of the workers in struggle in every workplace. Hold rank and file meetings to elect 1 delegate for each 100 workers to go the strike of the contract workers of El Teniente, to fight for the formation of a National Congress of the working class and exploited people of Chile.

For 5 days the contract workers of El Teniente, Andina, Chuquicamata, Tomic and Ventana have held an indefinite strike for a US $972 bonus for 2005. Over these days the class enemy of the bosses’ parties, the presidential candidates Bachelet and Piñera, the church which was part of the Pinochet fascist regime, the press etc., have all been preaching peace and reconciliation. The government tries to deceive the striking workers by changing the law on subcontracting claiming to have the interests of the workers of the subcontractor companies at heart. It wants to bring contract workers under the ‘legal’ coverage of the existing workplace unions. Lagos, Bachelet and Pinera want this law changed urgently because 50% of Chilean workers are currently working under subcontracts. But the purpose of this new law is to break the strike using the official union leadership to prevent it from spreading and developing into a national strike that sets off an uprising in the whole Chilean working class capable of smashing the FTA with US and European imperialism, breaking with the IMF, and bringing down the ‘socialist’ government of Lagos that covers for the Pinochet regime – in short, of revolting against the re-colonisation of Chile.

Go on the offensive to defeat the Subcontracting Law!

The Government is ruthless. There is no bonus on the agenda in its negotiations with the CUT and the Coordinatora [national union of the contract workers]. Only secondary questions that can be included in the reformed law are being discussed. Lagos has already rejected any bonus for contract workers because this would reduce the superprofits of imperialism. That is because the huge profits made by the state-owned Codelco in 2005 (around 33% of the copper production in Chile) do not go to the State but to pay the external debt to the imperialist IMF, or to buy new weapons for the Chilean military to use against the people (10% of the copper revenue funds the Armed Forces). It is a sad joke that Lagos claims that he will use the money the contract workers claim in bonuses to help benefit youth in poverty when his government has privatized many State companies, the ports, health and education, road construction, bridges etc.; in short, when it is his policies that are responsible for the poverty and oppression of workers in Chile.

We can gain nothing from reforming a law that ‘legalises’ the slavery of the working class. We must fight to defeat it. But who is against this law? Not the leaders of the CUT [trade union federation] who are the puppets of the Ministry of Labor and the Government. Not the leaders of the Coordinatora who also agree with the Government’s law. Only the workers who have gone on strike are against this law. The bourgeoisie only grants concessions to workers when it is afraid of losing everything, and these conquests can only be defended by constant struggle. Instead of negotiating with the class enemy over the terms of their exploitation, workers must go on the offensive and fight to smash the subcontracting law of Lagos, the FTA, Pinochet’s 1980 constitution, and the plundering of copper by imperialism, by renationalising the industry under workers control!

For a national congress of workers and poor farmers delegates in Rancagua!

The indefinite strike has been very strong up to now. In Rancagua the highway 5 South that is used to ship copper has seen strong confrontations with the police. In the cities the strikers have mobilised to stop the buses carrying strikebreakers. There have been many demonstrations in support of arrested comrades. The same strong actions have been made by the comrades of the Andina mine, who have cut the highway to Mendoza (Argentina) to stop buses reaching the mine.

Despite threats of dismissal, non-renewal of contracts, use of strikebreakers etc, the strike has held firm. But the contract workers of Codelco who are leading the struggle against super-exploitation cannot be left to fight alone for one more second. By uniting the miners with the maintenance and service contract workers in the fight for the bonus, they have set an example to the workers of the whole country on how to fight for their demands. But the leaders of the CUT and the Coordinatora do nothing to unite and generalise the strike. By burying the demands in negotiations, the leaderships hold back the offensive, preventing the building of the strike through street protests, pickets, barricades and workers self-defence committees.

One thing is certain, the workers will not win if instead of trusting in their own forces, they allow their fight to be subordinated to the politicians, the church, the fascists, the mayors and the bureaucrats. Comrades, if we want a strong union of contract workers we cannot allow it to become dependent on the state. The state unions are legally recognised but impotent in the face of the privatisations. We must build the union on the basis of rank and file solidarity with the working class method of workers democracy and direct negotiations independent of the state and the union bureaucracy.

Only a rank and file union can demand that the leadership of the CUT, Martinez (head of the Coordinatora) and the Communist Party, break with the bourgeoisie and with the civil-military pact of the government of Lagos and all those who backed the Pinochet coup. We must demand that the union leaders immediately summon a National Congress of workers and poor farmers based on rank and file delegates to strengthen the indefinite strike of the contract workers of El Teniente! Organizations like the CAT, the SINTRAC, CGT MOSICAM, the National Coordinatora of Dock and Ship Workers, all the unions and federations of the country, must break with class conciliation and give support to a National Congress.

Demand that the CUT breaks with the bosses and calls an immediate workers congress in Rancagua!

The contract workers or El Teniente are the symbol of Chilean working class slavery. The contract workers of all the other mines, all the factories, workplaces, ports and plants, must send one delegate for each 100 workers elected by mass assemblies, to El Teniente, to make a National Congress that can begin immediately to plan and prepare for a national general strike of masses; to create Self-Defence Committees to face the repression of the police; to defeat the subcontracting system completely; the privatisation of the mines; and the Lagos Government and the Pinochet regime – the Agreement of the Constitution of 1980 – of the client state of US imperialism’s IMF and FTA.

The Congress must plan for the re-nationalisation without compensation and under workers’ control of the whole copper industry! The non-payment of the external debt! The break with all Free Trade Agreements! An end to 10% of the copper revenue going to the Armed Forces! An end to the military investments in the Chilean army, to stop the Chilean bourgeoisie acting as the servant of US and UK imperialism to smash the Bolivian revolution!

Only by these means will the contract workers of Codelco win a bonus of 1 million 600 thousand pesos and the same conditions as the wage workers of Codelco. For a 7 and a half hour day without increased work! For equal pay for equal jobs, including overtime and other payments! It is vital that the contract workers get the same conditions as the wage workers as this is the only way to unite the workforce against the subcontracting system. There have been over 9000 ‘regular’ jobs, ‘protected’ by the union under collective agreements, lost since 1990 to the subcontracting system.

The most important demand is: Proletarian Internationalism!

We are the militants of Internationalist Workers Party (POI), members of Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction (FLT). We think that proletarian internationalism is the most urgent demand of the Chilean working class. Since 2003 the vanguard of the working class struggle of the Latin American continent has been the miners of Huanuni, Bolivia. They fight for the nationalisation of the Bolivian mines and the gas under the control of the workers, leading the struggle of all the American working class to strike a blow to the head of the bourgeoisie and its private property, that it has defended since the 1970s by means of military dictatorships and which it continues to defend by its ongoing repression and massacres.

Our continent continues being plundered and bled by imperialism. The natural resources and the enslaved manual labor is their main prize. It is the same way that the US mine owners have killed 12 miners in West Virginia because they took their profits without paying for the safety of the miners. This was what happened in 2004 in Rio Turbio in the south of Argentina in August 2005 when 14 coal miners died in a Rio Turbio coalmine after a gas explosion, and in El Teniente copper mine in 2005, where the number of workers killed was also 12. The demand of the miners of Huanuni is the only way to stop the imperialists from murdering miners for profit, because the workers would control and manage the mines ensuring good health and safety conditions.

The manifesto of the miners of Huanuni and of the Bolivian workers is the internationalist manifesto for the whole American working class. For that reason it is necessary that the Chilean working class fights for the re-nationalization without compensation under workers control of copper and all natural resources. But even more important, is that the workers of the continent rally in support of the victory of the Bolivian revolution. The Bolivian working class holds the key to the victory of the working masses and poor farmers of South America. With the gas controlled by the Bolivian workers, the fuel necessary for all industry to operate under the control of workers in the Continent would be made possible. This and no other reason is why the Leninist-Trotskyists of POI say that the victory of the Chilean working class will be decided in the streets of Bolivia, in La Paz, in El Alto, Oruro, etc.

Chilean Workers must support the victory of the Bolivian Workers’ and Poor Peasants Revolution!

Workers International Party (Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction) 2006-01-10


Campaign of workers solidarity with ex-political prisoners

I am Carlos Rojas, ex-political prisoner.

I was arrested in 1988 in Rancagua, in the last years of military dictatorship. I spend these hard years mainly in the Public Jail. In 1993, by the authority of the Christian Democrat Government of Patricio Aylwin – who along with Jaime Guzmán created the Intelligence Office – I was granted parole which means I must present myself to the police every month (even today). Many of my comrades were ‘benefited’ by political exile.

At the end of 2005 I became strongly involved in the fight begun by the subcontracted workers of the El Teniente mine of Rancagua, for the same wages and labor conditions as the workers employed by Codelco at the mine. I participated in the 16 day strike and marches and protests, before being arrested by the police during a march on the 4 January.

True to my class and my convictions, I am now up against the Chilean State again, the one that now has a ‘democratic’ and ‘socialist’ face. Because of my struggle for the exploited as a member of my class, I and ten other comrades who are employed by subcontractors like Metalcorp have been sacked without the wages owed to us being paid. But not only that on 2 February Cedelco told me that I was banned from working at any of its state owned mines.

The strikers now being prosecuted by the military prosecutor under the Interior Law of State Security; the mineworkers sacked and facing all sorts of reprisals; the militarization of the mine, the political persecution such as I am suffering; all those are the reply that the police/military regime under the command of the "Socialist" Lagos and the "Socialist" Bachelet, gives to the workers who are fighting for the rightful and just demands of their class.

I am making an urgent call to all workers organisations, and popular and human rights organisations, to join this campaign and to win as much support for it as possible by means of newspapers, magazines, Web pages, etc.

  • For the quashing of the sentences of all ex-political prisoners! 
  • Enough of the political persecution! 
  • End all the persecution by the state of the contract workers and all worker and popular militants! 
  • Throw out the Antiterrorist Law! 
  • Throw out the Interior Law of State Security! 
  • Immediate unconditional freedom for Hardy Pena and all Chilean and Mapuche political prisoners!

Carlos Rojas 3 February 2006

From Class Struggle 65 Feb/March 2006

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