Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chile miners rescue

The capsule : will become object of veneration
29 miners rescued now.  4 more of the original 33 to come up, plus several rescuers.  Been watching BBC News on and off throughout the day.

You can be sure that capsule will be erected in a museum and will become an object of national veneration. It’s striking how the operation has been the focus of huge national pride, flags and chanting “Chi – le”.  Some scenes have brought a tear to the eye.  Great dignity of the miners. The occupation of miner, toiling in the bowels of the earth to enrich the already rich, has forever been a powerful icon of capitalism.

The president of Chile has just been interviewed and said “I hope that from now, when people hear the word Chile, they will remember not the coup or the dictatorship but this rescue”. 

From The Guardian website “several commentators – including international trade unions – have pointed to Chile's failure to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on safety and health in mines, and drawn attention to the consequences of inadequate workplace safety standards across the country.”

The behaviour of the mining company San Esteban seems to have been disgraceful. Partly explained perhaps by the fact that they look like being forced into well deserved bankruptcy. After the August 5 cave-in that trapped the workers, the company sacked more than 200 other miners, refusing to pay their wages and entitlements.  The miners union in Chile, is still, even now, pursuing demands that the government pay the workers’ wages if the company won’t.  The Chilean president in the interview I've just seen deflected a question put to him on this.

A comment on the website of the US trade union federation AFL-CIO draws a disparaging contrast with how the Bush administration handled the New Orleans hurricane: “The entire country turned out for the miners. There are celebrations throughout Chile. The President is at a 24 hour watch at the site, greeting the miners as they come out. The operation cost 9 million dollars and the mine owner is being fined 10 million. The miners will get constant medical attention for 6 months. Then there was Katrina ...”

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant piece this, dad. I hadn't heard of, or thought of, any of this myself.