UPDATE 1-Union mulling action on job cuts at Freeport Chile copper mine
(Adds comment from Freeport)
SANTIAGO Aug 31 (Reuters) - A Chilean union that represents copper mine workers rejected a move by Freeport-McMoRan Inc to drastically cut staff at its El Abra mine and said on Monday it was considering action.
Last week, Arizona-based Freeport, which owns a 51 percent stake in the mine in northern Chile, became one of the first big global miners to announce it was slashing production because of slumping copper prices.
That would include reducing mining rates at El Abra by about 50 percent to cut and defer costs, and extend the mine's life, the company said.
Over the weekend Freeport began to send out letters announcing the dismissals and refusing to negotiate, said Juana Mejias, who heads the mine's local union, adding that around 700 workers were being fired.
"The situation is complex and a true massacre that they have carried out by dismissing 50 percent of the workforce," she said in a statement on Monday.
However, a spokesman for Freeport said that termination notices had not yet been issued.
"Plans for reductions in the workforce are being developed," he said.
Gustavo Tapia, head of the Chile Mining Federation union, dismissed the fall in the copper price as a "cyclical issue" and said multinational companies had sufficient profits to ride it out. Continuación...