Workers at Earth's largest radio telescope in Chile strike over pay, working conditions

Workers at the world's largest radio telescope are staging a strike to demand better pay and working conditions.

Union workers at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, began the strike Thursday after they failed to reach an agreement with Associated Universities Inc., the employer of Chilean staff.

Striking workers are demanding a 15 percent salary increase and benefits to compensate for the high altitude and isolation they endure at their jobs.

ALMA is on a remote plateau above the Atacama desert, and is about 16,400-feet (5,000-meter) above sea level. Workers are exposed to strong winds, thin air and severe temperature drops.

ALMA searches for clues about the dawn of the cosmos, from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed to the energy produced by the Big Bang.