BOGOTA Feb 15 Colombia's largest coal exporter,
Cerrejon, and its striking union will meet on Friday for the
first time since workers walked off the job last week, both
Laborers at Cerrejon, a joint venture between BHP Billiton
, Anglo American and Xstrata, went on
strike on Feb. 7, the first walkout in two decades, after
failing to reach an agreement over wages and compensation.
"Cerrejon confirms its willingness to resume negotiations
with Sintracarbon (union) to enable a new collective bargaining
agreement 2013-2014 and put an end to a strike that has caused
great harm," the company said in a statement late on Thursday.
"Accordingly, Cerrejon will attend a meeting with
representatives of Sintracarbon facilitated by the Deputy
Minister of Labor, Jose Noe Rivers, which constitutes a first
step in seeking clear rules that permit the resumption of
negotiations in a constructive way."
Sintracarbon union President Igor Diaz told Reuters that the
meeting would take place on Friday.
The strike has added to problems in the coal industry, which
has been hit by a suspension at Drummond, the second-largest
exporter, a night-time ban on coal transport at the main railway
and a dispute at a mine owned by a Goldman Sachs affiliate.
In total, about 85 percent of Colombia's daily coal
production has been shut down as a result, according to
calculations by Reuters and industry sources.