* Strike avoided, market had ignored walkout threat
* Cerrejon, workers had been in talks since last year
* Agreement expected to be signed on Tuesday
BOGOTA, Feb 6 Colombian coal workers have
accepted a compensation deal with the nation's largest
exporter, Cerrejon, and the signing is expected to happen on
Tuesday, company and union officials said.
Cerrejon produces on average 85,000 tonnes a day of coal,
and any strike would have hit the global coal market at a time
when it is vulnerable to supply disruptions in many important
exporting countries, such as Australia.
"The majority of workers have accepted the offer by the
company and that avoids a strike. We only have to edit the
agreement and sign it. We hope to do it on Tuesday,"
Sintracarbon union President Igor Diaz said on Sunday.
Cerrejon chief negotiator Alvaro Lopez said he expected
both sides to spend Monday looking over the wording of the deal
and then ink the pact on Tuesday.
Traders have said the potential walkout had already been
factored into prices. [ID:nLDE7131UG]
Cerrejon and workers have been in talks since Dec. 9.
Cerrejon -- unlike privately owned Drummond and Glencore,
Colombia's other top coal producers -- has listed partners, BHP
Billiton (BLT.L), Anglo American (AAL.L) and Xstrata XTA.L,
to keep happy as well as its customers.
In June last year, workers at U.S. coal miner Drummond
reached a three-year deal while a month later laborers at La
Jagua mine of Glencore's Prodeco unit signed a two-year deal
after a five-week walkout. [ID:nN15264583] [ID:nN15264583]
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Jack Kimball, editing by
Maureen Bavdek and Gunna Dickson)