Codelco copper mine strike continues, CEO talks to suppliers
By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO, July 28 (Reuters) - Contract workers at Codelco continued their week-long strike on Tuesday, as the chief executive of the world's No. 1 copper miner met with suppliers to try to thrash out a deal.
On July 21, contract workers affiliated with the Confederation of Copper Workers, or CTC, began protests and setting up roadblocks to Codelco mines throughout Chile. The workers are demanding the right to negotiate a benefits package similar to the one offered to direct employees.
"The actions are continuing and the projects are not working normally," CTC head Manuel Ahumada told Reuters on Tuesday.
On Friday a worker was shot dead by police near Codelco's Salvador mine in northern Chile, and at the weekend the strikers seized control of the project.
Salvador remained occupied by the protestors, Codelco said Monday. The union said police were controlling the access road.
Salvador, which has been suspended since last week, produced 54,000 tonnes of copper, or just under 1 percent of state-run Codelco's total output last year.
Codelco did not give immediate comment on the effect of the strike on its other projects but said Tuesday that its chief executive was meeting with representatives of 37 contract companies to analyze "a new production model for contracted workers".
The CTC represents mostly services contractors such as cleaners and drivers as well as some miners and other workers. It has said the strike will continue until Codelco agrees to talk about improvements in the benefits that the workers receive through a "framework agreement" that covers their terms of employment.
Codelco has said their demands are not realistic under current market conditions and that their dispute should be taken up directly with the companies that employ them.
The union met on Monday evening with Chile Labor Minister Ximena Rincon to request government mediation, and said after the meeting said she had agreed to try to find a solution. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by David Gregorio)
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