LIMA Jan 3 Workers at the main units of Southern Copper in Peru will hold contract talks soon with the global copper producer but say they could strike after Jan. 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.
Workers held a two-day strike at the end of December. The government declared that strike illegal because the union lacked the proper permits.
Guillermo Vidalon, a Southern Copper official, said the company has told all union members that it is willing to resume indefinite negotiations starting Monday, Jan. 7.
Juarez said if an agreement is not reached, the union will consider a new strike sometime after Jan. 15.
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 No. 2 copper exporter after Chile.