Global miner BHP said this week that it had responded to the latest contract proposal from unionized workers at its Escondida copper mine in Chile, the worlds largest, triggering a new round of talks that could last a month or more. The unions proposal, filed with the company in early June, included a salary increase of 5 percent and a one-time bonus of $ 34,000, equivalent to 4 percent of dividends distributed to shareholders.
In a statement, BHP said it was now ready to discuss the n++different points of interestn++ at the negotiating table. The companys response marks the start of a final round of negotiations more than a year after an historic strike at Escondida in early 2017 shut down the mine for 44 days, jolting the copper market and depriving BHP of $ 1 billion in production.
Workers at the time opted to utilize a provision of Chiles labor law that allows unions to extend the previous contract for 18 months. Copper prices have increased by more than 50 percent since hitting a nine-year low in 2016, a favorable trend that could provide unions more leverage in negotiations. The union at Escondida said last Friday it saw a n++favorable scenarion++ for reaching a deal on a new labor contract with the company, citing, in part, higher copper prices.