June 19, 2019 / 2:13 PM / a month ago

Striking Codelco miners in Chile to consider new contract offer

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Unions at Chile’s Codelco on Wednesday evening will discuss an improved contract offer that the world’s largest copper producer hopes will bring an end to a strike at its huge Chuquicamata deposit now entering its sixth day.

The three main unions will present the new offer to their members, who make up 80 percent of the workforce at the mine. The unions have been striking since last Friday after negotiations over a new collective labor contract failed.

Codelco made the sweetened offer on Tuesday after clashes at the mine, when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as striking workers tried to block access to a site.

A group of workers at the mine from unions 1, 2 and 3 was repelled by the police, while at least 12 people were arrested, one of the unions said.

“We will present it in assembly,” Liliana Ugarte, head of union 2, told Reuters, confirming that members would vote on the offer through a secret ballot. The vote itself is likely to be held in coming days.

Chuquicamata, or “Chuqui,” one of Codelco’s key copper deposits, faces a challenge to maintain output as the open-pit mine undergoes a complex $5 billion-plus transformation into an underground shaft mine.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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