Workers at Antofagasta’s Centinela mine vote to strike

Centinela mine. (Image courtesy of Minera Centinela)

Supervisors at Antofagasta Minerals’ Centinela copper mine in Chile have voted in favor of strike action after rejecting a pay offer, their union chief told Reuters on Monday.

A total of 94.7% of members voted for a stoppage, which can only be confirmed after a period of mandatory government-led mediation that usually lasts between five and 10 days.

“The result reflects how poor the latest offer was from the company,” Celso Pardo, president of the union, told Reuters.

Pardo added that a possible stoppage could jeopardize the operational continuity of the mine because most of the mine’s supervisors were unionized.

Since the arrival of the novel coronavirus in Chile in early March, copper production has been minimally impacted by sanitary restrictions imposed by the central government to prevent its spread.

However, in recent weeks contagions in the industry have increased steadily, with some deaths, prompting a revision of shift patterns, suspension of construction projects and smelters as tensions with unions rise.

Last week, members of the union representing workers at Antofagasta’s Zaldivar mine voted in favor of strike action after rejecting a pay offer and vowed to strike from July 15, pending government-led mediation.

Antofagasta said in a statement that the company hoped “to reach an agreement through dialogue, considering the conditions of Centinela mine’s business and its projections.”

Centinela produced 276,000 tonnes of copper last year.

(By Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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