SANTIAGO – Striking contract workers with Chilean state copper company Codelco disrupted operations Wednesday at the El Teniente mine near the northern city of Rancagua, blocking a highway and setting buses on fire.
The incidents began early in the morning on Route 5 South near Rancagua, where a group of strikers occupied the road and intercepted two buses chartered by Codelco to transport miners to El Teniente.
After forcing the passengers and drivers to get off, the protesters set the vehicles ablaze and fled before police arrived along with firefighters, who doused the flames.
Protests by contract workers at the world’s largest copper producer have to other mines in northern Chile, in particular the Radomiro Tomic, Ministro Hales and Chuquicamata sites, all near Calama.
Workers demand that Codelco negotiate a framework agreement with contractors to regulate labor conditions in the sector.
Codelco, which produces about 1.7 million tons of copper per year, argues that labor relations with contract workers must be handled by the private companies that hire them.
Protests have intensified this week at the El Salvador mine in the remote northern region of Atacama, where a striker was fatally shot by police last Friday.