ALMA Union went into a strike on 2013. Then Paranal Union published this statement and performed some demonstrations to support ALMA Union
Members of ESO Paranal Union -that represents workers from the observatories of La Silla, APEX and Paranal and ESO Vitacura office- know very well how frustrating it is to negotiate with an employer to whom the Chilean Government has granted special conditions. Not only negotiate, but in in general, the act of claiming rights for any worker.
The conditions granted by the Republic of Chile for the establishment of ESO and ALMA project are different. Notwithstanding, employees and contractors from both ESO and ALMA are deprived from their fundamental labour protection rights which are guaranteed by the Chilean Constitution.
Even more serious is the fact that the immunity of jurisdiction granted to ESO and extended to ALMA provides the ground where some situations are left with no jurisdiction at all, preventing employees from exerting their essential rights to appeal to justice.
According to these privileges granted, the Chilean Labour Inspection Office (Inspección del Trabajo) is not allowed to enter and revise the premises that ESO has in Vitacura -and where the ALMA project also has its corporative building-, nor on the areas where ALMA, Paranal, APEX and La Silla Observatories operate.
Salary increase is only one of the claims submitted. We also have demanded a fair treatment and improvement in the safety working conditions. Within ESO it has been a very hard task to homologate some of the Observatory rules with the Chilean Law. Workers indeed have problems. We know it very well.
What is happening in ALMA is only a symptom. The root of these problems lies in the fact that the Chilean Government treats ESO and ALMA as if they were equal States. Evidently they are not. Both ESO and ALMA project operate within Chile under unjustified constitutional exemptions.
The representatives of ALMA Union have been responsible and courageous in defending the demands of their workers.
We pay our respects to them and to each member of the ALMA Union.