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Workers at Chile's ALMA Telescope Strike Over Working Conditions 274

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from Deutsche Welle: "'Employees at the world's largest radio telescope have gone on strike after failing to reach agreement over pay and conditions. Workers say they are not sufficiently compensated for isolation and high altitude.' The strike started on Thursday, and the telescope is currently not operating. Although the project's budget is $1.1 billion, an ALMA technician earns less than $2,000 per month. How does this compare with people working at observatories in the U.S., Japan, or the European Union?"
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Workers at Chile's ALMA Telescope Strike Over Working Conditions

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  • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @09:05AM (#44663211)


    Not really. The only cheaters are those who lie that there is something immoral about organised labour.

    All employees should unite and strike until paid enough to balance the distribution of wealth. And there's nothing employers would then be able to do about it, except turn employees into slaves.

    And that's why there are so many lies told about unions.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @09:14AM (#44663259)

    The cost of living in Chile for american expats is under $1000 a month.

    The average annual income is $11,039.

    If the observatory workers are making $2000 a month, then they seem to be making the equivalent of about $90,000 in the U.S. for local goods and services- tho very little in terms of world products (like imported automobiles and air conditioners).

  • by SynFlood ( 8769 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @09:19AM (#44663283)

    First of all, I work for ALMA and I'm part of the workers union , but i'm speaking for myself.

    the budget is 1.5 billion already spent on the project , each antenna with all its equipment cost US$10 million, and there are 64 of them,and then you have to add all the building, devices, software licenses, computers, network equipment and other things that the project needs, so you can go easily to one billion only on that , which is already in place.

    about two, yes english site, agree use , instead of . for thousand separator ;)

    three, 2,000 USD is the average, some workers make less than 1,000 USD per month, working 12 hours a day on 8 days working, 6 days off shift, the average is 2,000 USD and top paid workers are getting nearly 6,000 USD per month.

    Another important point, we are on strike NOT for the money, we are on strike because the company that have our contracts is changing condition and removing some benefits , maybe U.S. laws permit that, but ALMA is located in Chile, and laws here are different, also ALMA is abusing of its special diplomatic condition to disallow inspection by the agency in charge of verify working conditions (Inspeccion del Trabajo de Chile).

    Also to clarify, most of the work is performed at 5,000msn (16,000 ft over sea level), with tempetures as low as -10 celcius (14 fahrenheit) with relative humidity of 5% and winds of 10 m/s (32feet/s).

  • by dataspel ( 2436808 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:31AM (#44663639)
    McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Texas. Comparable isolation, but only about 7000 ft altitude.
    Techician jobs range from about $20,000 to $35,000

    For example: []

  • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:09AM (#44663859) Homepage

    If Chilean labor law actually permits the employer to fire strikers and provides protection against a mob assaulting any new employees, then bravo for Chile. In America, you'd be sued into oblivion, your factory surrounded by a mob, and any scabs assaulted on their way to work, and the police wouldn't lift a finger.

  • by SynFlood ( 8769 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:45AM (#44664117)

    jobs are from mechanical workers, electric engineers, antenna operator, array operators, warehouse operators , software programmers, system administrator, dba, network eng.

    about base salary, we are around 10% or 20% better paid than the same job at a santiago , for example

    I'm a Chilean citizen, 80% of the workers are Chilean citizen and the rest are from US, Europe or Asia (Japan mainly)

    but i would like to say that the strike is not mainly for the salary, also for the working conditions.

  • by SynFlood ( 8769 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:55AM (#44664191)

    If you see the add, they work form 8 to 5 MonFri, we work Mon to Mon 12hours a day, except first day wich is from 11 to 8 and last day wich is 8 to 3, wich is 88 hours in a week, then 6 das off, so is 44 hours a week in average? and we can't go back to our houses every night while working, because we are 1200km away from home, some even more, is a 2 hour bus trip to the nearest airport, and then 2 hous of fligh, or 24 hours in bus. so is not comparable with McDoald Observatory!
    Also elevation , accoring to thir page is only 2000mts, our residence is a 2960 and the work area at 5000mts.

  • by SynFlood ( 8769 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @12:02PM (#44664249)

    I was corrected by a collegue which says 'we have two bathrooms, one is broken, and the other is only for 'number 1', so if you have to 'number 2' , then you are ... well i think is clear
    (sorry for the wrong use of 'without' i was corrected by a colleague a few moments ago)

  • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:04PM (#44665215)

    Don't know how it works where you come from, but in civilised countries, striking is just a last resort in negotiation - it doesn't "alienate" you, and management can't suddenly pretend you don't exist.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @07:23PM (#44666333)

    Pick a way.

    There is no contradiction there. Altruism and collectivism are economic issues.

    Gimme a break.

    You're missing the forest for the trees. I disagree with his concern about pron, and many other things. I lean to the left, but cite an article from The American Conservative because he makes the basic criticisms of libertarianism so well, not because I otherwise agree with the author's politics. The author's important point is that what other people do, and are allowed to do, does affect others. Libertarians ignore that, or take the extremist view that there is no right to regulate other people's behavior except where it involves physical violence. In the real world compromise is necessary. I don't want to interfere with my neighbor watching pron, but having him open a slaughterhouse in a residential neighborhood is another matter.

    The most important point in the article is this:

    Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton