Mine owner BHP Group has requested negotiations to avoid a strike.
Worldwide the copper market may soon be threatened by a miners ’strike.
Workers at Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine in Chile, have rejected the final wage offer from mine owner BHP Group and voted in favor of the strike.
The news agency Reuters and Bloomberg.
Of the 2,175 members of Escondida’s trade union, 99.5 percent voted that workers should put pressure on BHP to offer better terms for the new three-year contract.
“We hope that this strong voting result will be a decisive stimulus for BHP to enter into in-depth discussions with a view to reaching satisfactory agreements if the company wants to avoid a long conflict that could be the most expensive in the country’s history,” the trade union commented.
The company and there has been a discussion between employees about working conditions for almost two months. According to the association, BHP has offered one-off bonuses in exchange for longer working days and new requirements to improve mine productivity.
According to BHP, its proposal contained better conditions and benefits than before. The company said it is also open to discussions on the agreement.
“It is always in the company’s interest to reach an agreement with its employees, so we are open to dialogue and take full advantage of the opportunities it offers,” it said in a statement.
Chile under labor law, both parties have the opportunity to negotiate for at least five days before the strike can begin. According to Bloomberg, the BHP has confirmed that it intends to request a consultation.
More than a quarter of the world’s copper production takes place in Chile. A prolonged strike could significantly affect the availability of copper and pump up already high prices.
Copper is an important raw material in the construction and electronics industries, for example.