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article imageChilean copper mine strike continues after workers reject offer

By AFP     Jun 22, 2019 in World

Striking workers employed by the world's top copper producer were set to continue their walkout on Saturday after voting down a management offer of better wages and compensation.

State-owned Codelco's proposal, presented to three unions representing 3,200 workers who went on strike last week, would have included $20,000 bonds, salary increases and improvements in workers' retirement plans such as increased health benefits.

But workers had "rejected the final offer of the company in the regulated collective negotiations," said Codelco, which produces nine percent of all copper globally.

The company said their offer "represents the greatest effort the administration can make within the framework of regulated collective bargaining."

Local media reported 1,511 workers voted against the proposal while 1,225 voted to approve it, meaning the strike will continue.

Located in the harsh Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Chuquicamata is considered the world's largest open pit copper mine.

It produced 320,000 fine metric tons of copper last year and employs 4,300 miners, making it Codelco's third-most important mine.

Economists estimate one day of downed tools costs Codelco 1,000 tons of copper and around $5.8 million (5.1 million euros).

The strike comes at a delicate moment. After operating for more than 100 years as an open pit, Chuquicamata will shift in July to underground block cave mining following an investment of $5.8 billion.

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