Colombia coal contractors to vote on whether to continue strike
By Peter Murphy
BOGOTA Aug 4 (Reuters) - Contract workers at Colombia's biggest coal mines will begin voting on Tuesday on whether to continue a four-week strike action, their employer said, while mining companies said the stoppage had minimal impact on operations.
The vote has been organized by a faction within roughly 3,400 employees of contractor Dimantec who have been on strike since July 9 over pay, Oscar Palacios, Dimantec's sales manager, said in an interview. The organizers back ending the strike, he said.
About 1,200 employees, are members of Sintraime, the union that has led the strike, he said.
The vote will take place at locations where the company operates, from Tuesday to Friday this week, according to a statement sent from a webmail account whose origin could not be verified by the time of publication.
The impact of the strike has been minimal for Colombia's biggest coal miner, joint venture Cerrejon, because it employs only 56 Dimantec contract workers, a small portion of its own 1,300-strong maintenance workforce.
"It isn't a big number for us that alters our operations in a critical way. This is why it hasn't had a bigger impact," Cerrejon's vice president for public affairs, Juan Carlos Restrepo, told Reuters.
Cerrejon, Colombia's biggest coal miner, is owned by Anglo American Plc, BHP Billton Ltd and Glencore Plc.
Dimantec's Palacios said most of the striking employees worked at the second-biggest coal miner, Drummond, and at Glencore subsidiary Prodeco, with around 700 stationed at each. A further 900 striking employees worked at a remote Dimantec maintenance site, servicing equipment. The remainder were dispersed in different roles around the country, Palacios said. Continuación...