2 Chile unions agree to end strike at world’s largest copper producer

posted September 03, 2021 at 08:20 pm
by  AFP
Santiago, Chile—Two of the three unions at Chile’s state mining company Codelco, the largest producer of copper in the world, have ended strike action, the company said on Thursday.

Unions representing 1,300 of the 1,437 workers at Codelco’s Andina division began industrial action in mid-August.

The Industrial Union of Labor Integration (SIIL) and the Unified Union of Workers (SUT) were the first to go on strike before the Suplant union, which is maintaining its action, joined them a week later.

Codelco and the two unions “have reached an agreement to end the legal strike action that these organizations began on August 12,” the company said.

Suplant, the smallest of the three unions, joined the strikers on August 17.

The agreement was approved after 53 percent of the SIIL and SUT members voted in favor of it, Codelco said.

Strike action began after the unions rejected a labor agreement proposal that removed health benefits for new employees, as well as compensation related to years of service.

They have now signed a collective agreement that will last for three years, although no details of the accord were given.

While much of Chile was put under lockdown at times during the coronavirus pandemic, the vital mining industry was kept operational.

The unions had complained that the original proposed labor agreement did not take into account the “mental burden and overwork” they were exposed to during the pandemic.

The Andina division, situated more than 3,000-meters above sea level in the center of the country, comprises the underground Rio Blanco mine and the open air Sur Sur mine, which together produced more than 184,000 metric tons of copper in 2020.

Codelco produces eight percent of the world’s copper. 

Chile is the world’s largest copper producer with 5.6 million tons a year that makes up 28 percent of global output, much of which is sold to China, the world’s biggest consumer.

Mining makes up 10-15 percent of Chile’s GDP and half of its exports. 

Topics: Codelco , Chile , mining , copper , Industrial Union of Labor Integration , Unified Union of Workers
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