EFESantiago

Unions say that more than 45,000 employees of state-owned Codelco, the world's top copper producers, are adhering to Wednesday's national strike to protest the Chilean government's decision to shut down a smelter blamed for poisoning scores of people.

Management, however, said that company operations were unaffected, while the government presented a plan to preserve the jobs of the workers at the Fundicion Ventanas smelter.

Codelco CEO Andre Sougarret and Chairman Maximo Pacheco joined Finance Minister Mario Marcel at a press conference where he said that 30 percent of profit for the next four years will be plowed back into the firm to enable facilities such as the Ventanas smelter to operate without harming the environment or public health.