Feeds

Workers at world's largest – and most remote – telescope go on strike

'More money and bennies, or no more pretty starbirth snaps,' demand ALMA staffers

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Workers at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, aka ALMA, have embarked upon a decidedly down-to-earth pursuit at the world's largest astronomical installation: they've gone on strike.

"The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array regrets that it was unable to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement with its union," the observatory announced, noting that because of that failure a "legal strike" began at 8:00am on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, nearly 200 workers are striking over equally down-to-earth demands: better pay and working conditions. To be specific, they want a 15 per cent rise in pay, and benefits that compensate them for the extreme conditions in which they work.

"Extreme" is no overstatement. ALMA is located at an elevation of 16,500 feet in Chile's Atacama Desert, which is among – if not the – driest spots on earth. It's also windy, cold, and as might be expected at 16,500 feet, a place with a rarified atmosphere not conducive to, say, spirited football matches during off hours.

The work stoppage comes just days after the $1.4bn installation, funded by the US, Europe, Japan, and Canada, proudly published a stirring image of a star being born, and just months after ALMA became fully operational this March.

"ALMA has activated a contingency plan that will enable it to continue basic operations" during the strike, the observatory said, noting that management is "confident that it will soon overcome these challenging times and continue to deliver fascinating scientific discoveries to the world." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.