BOGOTA Aug 9 Maintenance contractors at
Colombia's biggest coal mines have voted to end a month-long
strike, but the union that organized the stoppage says it will
appeal to have the decision annulled.
Workers at contractor Dimantec said on Saturday that 91
percent of the 2,084 who voted had backed returning to work and
resolving the dispute at an arbitration tribunal.
Dimantec supplies mechanics to the biggest mining companies
in Colombia, the world's fourth biggest coal producer.
The voting took place between Tuesday and Friday, and was
organized by a faction within roughly 3,400 Dimantec employees
who had been on striking since July 9 over pay. The organizers
backed ending the strike.
About 1,200 employees are members of Sintraime, the union
that has led the strike.
Roberto Guerrero, a spokesman for the Dimantec workers who
organized the vote, said the result now had to be certified as
valid by the labour ministry. The workers hoped to be back at
work by Thursday next week, he said.
But Felix Herrera, head of the Sintraime Union which
launched the strike action said the union has already filed a
complaint over irregularities in the voting process in order to
have the decision declared invalid.
"Until the ministry reaches its decision, the strike
continues," he said.
Colombia's largest miner, joint venture Cerrejon employed
just 56 Dimantec contractors though there were around 700
working at the second-biggest coal miner, U.S.-based Drummond
and the same number at Glencore subsidiary Prodeco.
Drummond said it has been able to maintain normal operations
by finding substitute contractors and the strike has had no
significant impact on the European coal market as large miners
continue to operate normally and maintain exports.
(Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Lynne O'Donnell)