Business

Chile’s Codelco clinches deal with workers at Radomiro Tomic mine, strike fears defused

Chilean state copper giant Codelco clinched a deal with workers at its Radomiro Tomic mine after they accepted a new contract offer on Wednesday, defusing worries about a potential strike with global prices of the red metal at decade highs.

The worker union said that the contract proposal was approved in a statement sent to Reuters. It added that there had been a strong vote in favor of a strike, but it had fallen short of the absolute majority needed.

The union vote saw 263 in favor of strike action, while 258 favored the offer. The rest of the total 670 votes were not cast, meaning support for a strike fell short of the 50% plus one vote that would have been needed.

“Given that the absolute majority was not met to make the strike effective, which implied 336 votes, the latest offer from the employer is accepted,” the union said in a statement.

Codelco, the world’s largest producer of copper, said in a statement that it had reached a collective agreement with the mine’s worker union, which included a bonus payment of around 4.16 million Chilean pesos ($5,776) but no salary adjustment.

The new contract will be effective for 36 months and will take effect from April 1, 2021, the state miner added.

Chile is the world’s no. 1 producer of the red metal and mining firms in the country regularly face off against worker unions over salary and bonus payments, which can spark disruptive strike action.

Radomiro Tomic produced 261,000 tonnes of copper last year, though is smaller than Codelco’s huge El Teniente miner and the Chuquicamata mine.

Lindor Quiroga, the mine’s general manager, heralded the agreement, but cautioned the business would face “deterioration in its mining variables” over the next five years, which would demand “improving processes, being austere and innovative”.