Striking workers at Chile's Andina copper mine reject new offer

Aug 29 (Reuters) – Striking workers at state-owned Codelco's Andina copper mine have rejected their employers' latest contract offer, the company and union said on Wednesday.

The 83 workers of the Plantas de Andina union began a strike on Aug. 20 after contract negotiations over salaries and bonuses failed.

On Wednesday, the union rejected the company's latest offer, a $15,900 package of bonuses and benefits that included a 1 percent salary increase and signing bonus of $10,800, Codelco said in a statement.

The union, which was formed last November as a breakaway from two existing unions at the mine, said on Twitter: "Our members have voted clearly against discriminatory practices towards trade unions, and rejected 100 percent the proposal of Codelco's Andina." Chile will continue losing $1.6 million a day because it refused to maintain benefits.

The company said its offer had been appropriate.

"Andina division regrets the rejection of its latest offer, which fully maintained the current benefits of the other Andina unions and included a signing bonus that it considered appropriate," it said.

Codelco said in light of the continued strike it would maintain production through a shift system of non-striking workers and bring forward routine maintenance operations for unoccupied areas of the mine, which has a total workforce of 1,724 people.

"Andina reiterates its continued readiness to resolve conflict through dialogue under the existing laws," it added.

The Andina mine, which produced 220,000 tonnes of copper in 2017, is in the Andes mountains near Santiago.

(By Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)