Wages uncertain for Chile’s trapped miners

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SANTIAGO - The 33 miners who are trapped 700 metres underground in northern Chile are not sure they will get paid in the coming months, a trade union spokeswoman said.

Evelyn Olmos, spokeswoman for the trade union at the San Jose mine in the Atacama desert, met Wednesday with the legally appointed auditor for the mine, Maria Ried.

“She said wages are guaranteed until September, but she gives us no certainty after that,” Olmos said.

The San Esteban mining company, which owns the mine, insists that it is bankrupt and has no funds to pay the wages.

The miners have been trapped since the shaft they were working in collapsed Aug 5.

They were isolated from the outside world for 17 days, and while they are now getting water, food, oxygen and messages through small ducts, and have telephone, power and television lines, they are not expected to be rescued until October or November.

The government is working to get the San Jose miners who are not trapped underground new jobs.

Rescue teams are now within less than 400 metres of the trapped miners.

Once a larger shaft has been bored, with a diameter of 60-70 cm, the miners are to be lifted to the surface one at a time. A module carrying the miners could take up to an hour to reach the surface, and the miners will need to be blindfolded to avoid hurting their eyes.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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