Antofagasta Dodges Strike at Biggest Copper Mine in Chile
(Bloomberg) -- Workers at the Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile accepted a wage offer in an eleventh-hour deal that averts a strike at Antofagasta Plc’s largest operation.
Members voted 71% in favor of the proposal after a lengthy negotiation including two weeks of government mediation, the union said. The new contract includes a 3.4% real pay rise and bonuses and benefits of 19.5 million pesos ($27,000) per worker.
A wage accord at a mine that accounts for about 6% of Chile’s copper production will ease concerns over tight global supplies that had helped send the metal to the highest prices in almost a decade. Chile, which accounts for more than a quarter of mined copper, is facing a slew of collective bargaining this year at a time when high prices embolden unions and companies battle to keep costs in check.
Antofagasta, owned by Chile’s richest family, managed to escape strikes at two of its other mines last year with last-minute wage deals.
The new three-year contract at Los Pelambres “has a clear focus on productivity,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. Benefits include an end-of-negotiation bonus of 10.5 million pesos and a loan of 3 million pesos, it said.
Another Los Pelambres union, representing 89 concentrator plant workers, is also in the final stages of the collective bargaining process. The mine produced 372,100 metric tons of copper last year, Chile government data show.
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