Workers end strike at world's biggest copper mine

But the company warned that the miners had only made matters worse by pushing negotiations back another year and a half.

Workers end strike at world's biggest copper mine

World Bulletin / News Desk

Workers at the world's largest copper mine, BHP Billiton's Escondida in Chile, ended a lengthy strike Thursday that had caused turbulence on global markets.

With no breakthrough in sight in the testy negotiations, the miners' union decided to invoke an article of Chilean labor law that allows them to keep their old contract for another 18 months, union lawyer Marco Lopez said.

Management at Escondida said triggering that law, known as Article 369, was a mistake.

"We know it's not good for anybody, and would be a complicated situation," the mine's president, Marcelo Castillo, said just before workers made the announcement.

Management had earlier announced the formal end of negotiations, giving the workers an ultimatum to take or leave its final offer.

Like other mining companies, BHP, which owns a 57.5 percent stake in the mine, is scrambling to cut costs amid a slide in copper prices in recent years.

It had rejected workers' demands for a seven percent raise and bonuses of 25 million pesos (around $38,000).

Instead, the Anglo-Australian mining giant was offering bonuses of 11.5 million pesos, with no raise.

The miners are also demanding to keep their current health and other benefits, and that new workers be given the same pay and benefits as existing ones.

The end of the 43-day strike came on the day it broke the record for the longest mining strike in the history of Chile, the world's top copper producer.

The workers will return to work Saturday, Lopez said.

Last Mod: 23 Mart 2017, 23:53
Add Comment