Copper Wage Talks Extended After Antofagasta Sweetens Offer
(Bloomberg) -- Antofagasta Plc sweetened its wage offer to copper workers in Chile, with both sides agreeing to extend government-mediated talks in a bid to reach a deal and avoid a strike at the company’s largest and most profitable mine.
On the fifth and final day of mediation at the Los Pelambres mine, the company made some concessions, although an agreement is yet to be reached, union secretary Luis Silva said. While a strike could have started as soon as Thursday, the two sides agreed to an extension and talks will continue at least through this week, he said.
“It’s not closed yet, but we’re heading that way,” Union President Eduardo Escobar said.
A breakthrough in talks at a mine that accounts for about 6% of Chilean copper would be a welcome relief for tight global supplies of the metal. A slew of collective bargaining this year in top producer Chile poses “a real possibility of strikes” as high prices embolden unions and companies battle to keep costs in check, according to BTG Pactual.
The regular phase of talks with the main Los Pelambres union failed to yield an agreement for more than 400 members, with the process shifting to mediation.
Mediated talks at another Pelambres union, representing 89 concentrator plant workers, are also advancing, with union leaders scheduled to update members on Thursday.
The company owned by Chile’s richest family managed to escape strikes at two of its other mines last year with eleventh-hour wage deals that included signing bonuses of more than $20,000 for each worker. The stakes are higher at Los Pelambres, Antofagasta’s most profitable asset.
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