Exclusive Chilean union at Escondida copper mine hopes for deal but braces for strike
The union representing workers at Chile’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, said on Wednesday it was preparing for a long strike if owner BHP (BHP.AX) did not abandon a stance historically “horrible” to its workforce to reach a “fair”. and a fair deal in impending contract negotiations.
In its first written comments ahead of talks set to begin in June, the union said it was preparing a contract proposal to submit to members. He said he was also building a contingency fund through additional levies paid by members to provide them with financial support in the event of a strike.
A potential strike would not begin until August, when the current contract of Escondida workers will expire.
The union said it would enter into discussions with an open mind and willing to dialogue, but warned that if BHP did not do the same, it had the solid base, funds and experience to lead its members. in a strike equivalent to or longer than the historic 44-day stoppage in 2017 that rocked global copper markets and slowed economic growth in this South American country.
“We insist and reiterate our total desire to get involved, we firmly believe that this is the way to deal with these processes, all within a framework of respect which results in a fair and equitable collective agreement,” he said. he declares.
BHP said in a statement to Reuters that it was also keen to engage in dialogue and reach “mutually beneficial” deals.
“We believe that in these times, demonstrating the ability to make constructive deals is even more relevant,” said the company, winking at a complex backdrop of high copper prices, struggling caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an agreement to draft a new constitution in Chile after social protests against inequality and elitism rocked the country.
Escondida produced 1.19 million tonnes of copper in 2020, and the market will follow contract negotiations that will likely put further upward pressure on global red metal prices, which have reached successive records since the start. of the year.
The union said its members must see the benefits of the current climate.
“The growing global need for copper, as a key component in the development of clean technologies, is a reality and an increased demand will be met by the workers of our country, at a time when the red metal is being traded at low prices. historic prices, ”the union said.
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.