Friday, July 27, 2007

Labor Issues In Socialist Chile

In 1971 Marxist Chilean President Salvador Allende completes the seizure of the countries copper industry. The move is justified by the excess profits being made by the foreign corporations that developed and built the operations. The nationalized industry remains a state owned enterprise called Codelco Corp. Socialists love to hold this story up as an example of the success of their vision, so it is interesting when labor unrest infiltrates their shining example of government owned of business.

Codelco copper strike reignites: An escalation in violence associated with the ongoing strike by Codelco subcontractors' workers has led to the shutdown of the world's largest underground copper mine - El Teniente. Salvador remains closed too. … Codelco said the disturbances were the most serious yet in the month-long stand-off between the state-owned firm, which supplies 11 percent of the world's copper, and subcontracted workers who are demanding improved pay and conditions.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called on Thursday for an end to the violence and government chief spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said the government was "certainly worried" by the economic implications of the stoppage for a country, which earns more than half its export revenue from copper sales. The government has urged Codelco to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible while the company has refused to submit to what it says are unreasonable demands.

When Socialist Michelle Bachelet is elected President of Chile it strikes me this may offer a comparative example of how a Hillary Clinton administration would operate. With labor hitting government where it hurts - in the cash flow - it should be informative to see how a compassionate socialist leader responds.