Monday, August 15

Majority of unions at Codelco’s El Teniente mine reject early contract offer

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SANTIAGO — A majority of the five worker’s unions at Codelco’s flagship El Teniente mine late on Thursday rejected a labor contract offered prior to the official negotiating period, the company’s federation of trade unions told Reuters.

Union members at the sprawling deposit, which produced 443,200 tonnes of copper in 2020, initiated early talks weeks ago but have yet to accept a deal on a new contract to the replace the current one, which expires at the end of October.

Only one of the five unions accepted the proposal of the miner, the Federation of Mine Workers (FTC) told Reuters, with the majority concerned that the proposal focused more on loans than direct benefits to employees.

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The parties now have a formal period of negotiation ahead of the contract’s expiration to hash out a deal.

The state miner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the situation.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, is already confronting a strike at its smaller Andina mine, where workers say the company has unfairly tried to eliminate past benefits.

Copper prices have soared to record highs this year, handing unions in Chile additional leverage, ratcheting up tensions in labor negotiations and putting pressure on global supply of the red metal.

Global miner BHP recently struck a deal with workers at its massive Escondida mine in northern Chile that resulted in record-breaking benefits, an outcome that will likely raise the bar in upcoming negotiations elsewhere in the South American nation, including at El Teniente. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)