Colombia coal mechanics' strike in 6th day, talks at stalemate

lunes 14 de julio de 2014 10:36 GYT

CARACAS, July 14 (Reuters) - Contractors maintaining heavy machinery at Colombia's largest coal mines remained on strike for a sixth day on Monday after fresh attempts to reach a negotiated settlement ended without a deal, a union leader said on Monday.

Felix Herrera of the Sintraime union said Dimantec, a third-party contractor providing around 3,500 mechanics to Colombia's biggest miners including joint-venture Cerrejon and U.S.-based Drummond Co, had rejected a union proposal for a wage increase.

The company in turn made a new wage offer but workers rejected it because it was almost identical to the company's prior offer, Herrera said.

"There's no agreement. We made a proposal and the company continued with an almost identical proposal," said Herrera, who said there were no plans for further negotiations on Monday but that the Labor Ministry was trying to get both sides to meet again.

The mining companies are allowed to seek mechanics elsewhere, which may help them avoid disruption to their operations for longer. Representatives at Cerrejon have been unreachable since the strike began to clarify what impact the stoppage was having.

An employee reached at the mine last Thursday said there was no apparent impact to operations early on in the strike.

Drummond said last week it would not comment.

The European coal market has largely brushed off news of the strike in the world's fourth-biggest coal exporter as mild weather eases demand and ample stocks provide a buffer against supply shocks. (Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Tom Brown)