Workers at Southern Copper in Peru eye strike, pending talks

LIMA Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:24am EST

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LIMA Jan 3 (Reuters) - Workers at the main units of Southern Copper in Peru will hold talks soon with the global copper producer but say they could strike after January 15 if negotiations break down, union leader Ricardo Juarez said on Thursday.

Union members are pressing for a 15 percent wage increase as well as better safety conditions and health benefits, Juarez said, adding that Southern Copper so far has offered to raise salaries no more than 5.5 percent.

The company had no immediate comment on Thursday.

Workers held a two-day strike December 25 and 26. The government declared that strike illegal because the union lacked the proper permits.

Union representatives will meet with the company Monday January 7 for new talks and if an agreement is not reached they will consider a new strike sometime after January 15, Juarez said.

Some 2,500 people work at Southern Copper's units in Cuajone, Toquepala and Ilo.

Southern Copper, an affiliate of Grupo Mexico, produced about 24 percent of Peru's copper production in 2011.

Peru is the world's leading copper exporter after Chile.

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