Chilean miners won’t get paid while they’re buried alive

From the Daily Mail, Sept. 1:

The 33 trapped Chilean miners may not receive any wages while they are trapped underground, a union official has claimed. Evelyn Olmos says that San Esteban, the company that operates the mine, has said it has no money to pay their wages and absorb lawsuits, and is not even participating in the rescue.

Mr Olmos has called on the government to pay the workers’ wages starting in September, as well as giving help to the roughly 100 other people at the mine who are now out of work and 170 more who work elsewhere for San Esteban.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said the government was prohibited by labour laws from assuming responsibility for the salaries. He said it was up to the mining company and would have to be worked out in Chilean courts.

Cute, huh? We’re reminded of the Irish folk song, “Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill“:

The foreman’s name was John McCann
By God, he was a blamed mean man
One day a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff…

And when next payday came ’round
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky!”

The miners have now been trapped for a month, and have been told that they may not be rescued until the end of the year. The accident in the small gold and copper mine has drawn attention to the question of mine safety in Chile, the world’s top copper producer. President Sebastián Piñera has fired officials of Chile’s mining regulator, the National Mining and Geology Service, and vowed to overhaul the agency. (The Guardian, Aug. 26; Mining News & Journal, Aug. 23)

See our last posts on Chile and the mineral cartel in Latin America.

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