Unions block access to major Chile copper mine

SANTIAGO, June 22 Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:34am EDT

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SANTIAGO, June 22 (Reuters) - Union leaders early Wednesday blocked roads to Codelco's giant Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile to demand the state miner respects their collective contracts as it overhauls the operation, unions and a company official told Reuters.

The blockage prevented early shift workers from entering the mine while night shift workers continued to the operate the deposit that produces more than 500,000 tonnes a year.

"If this (blockade) lasts for more hours it will start to hit operations," said union leader Jaime Graz. "The company has to agree to meet with us for our people to allow workers to enter." (Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by John Picinich)

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