June 3, 2010 / 8:21 PM / 9 years ago

Glencore Colombia workers may vote to strike-union

* Glencore, workers reached two-year accord in 2008

* Separate, possible strike at Drummond’s operations

BOGOTA, June 3 (Reuters) - Workers at one of Glencore’s GLEN.UL coal operations in Colombia will vote on Friday whether to strike over working conditions at the nation’s third largest exporter, a labor union said.

Colombia, the world’s No. 5 coal exporter, already faces a possible strike from workers at another one of the largest coal companies in the Andean nation — an stoppage of its thermal coal exports could lead to a hike in global prices.

“Because there has not been an agreement (with the company) ... most probably they’ll vote to strike,” Joaquin Romero, an official with the Funtraenergetica labor organization which represents the miners, told Reuters by telephone on Thursday.

Romero said workers at La Jagua mine — located in the northern Cesar province — had been in talks with the company since the end of April.

In July 2008, Glencore and the roughly 400 workers reached a two-year contract deal which avoided a walkout.

Glencore was not immediately available for comment.

Unions use the threat of strikes for leverage in bargaining talks with mining and oil companies, which have begun coming back to Colombia after a fall in guerrilla violence in the last eight years under President Alvaro Uribe.

If a majority votes for a strike on Friday, there will be 10 days for employees to act. If there is no walkout between the third day and the ninth day after the vote, workers must vote again.

Glencore — which owns 35 percent of mining group Xstrata XTA.L — says it has 2,500 workers at its mines and port. Its Prodeco operations consist of Calenturitas and La Jagua mines.

Glencore, the world’s biggest supplier of seaborne steam coal, bought back the Prodeco coal operations in March from from Xstrata. [ID:nLDE6240AK]

Workers at privately-owned Drummond — Colombia’s second largest coal exporter — voted to strike on Monday, a move the company called illegal. [ID:nN01140619]

Colombia ships most of its thermal coal to Europe, but the country also ships coal to the United States, other Latin American countries and Asia. (Reporting by Jack Kimball; Editing by David Gregorio)

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