July 24, 2018 / 10:33 PM / a year ago

Chile's Escondida copper mine makes final offer to union

FILE PHOTO: A worker of BHP Billiton's Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine, is seen in front of the open pit, in Antofagasta, northern Chile March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

(Reuters) - The world’s largest copper mine, BHP’s Escondida in Chile, said on Tuesday it had made a final offer in talks with the union representing its rank-and-file workers that includes a beefed up contract signing bonus and a 1.5 percent increase in wages.

The Anglo-Australian miner offered a final signing bonus of $27,700, compared to its previous offer of $23,000. The 1.5 percent salary increase compared to a previous offer of a flat salary with increases only for inflation.

The union had requested a 5 percent salary increase and a bonus of up to $40,000 per worker.

The closely watched talks come little more than one year after failure to reach a labor deal at the mine led to a 44-day strike that jolted the global copper market.

“We don’t want to go to strike and we’re sure the great majority of workers don’t want to either,” said Patricio Vilaplana, vice-president of corporate affairs for Escondida.

“For that reason we took this decision, which maintains existing benefits, is sustainable for the company and, above all, maintains a contract that is the best collective contract in Chilean private mining.”

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Sandra Maler

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