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Workers at a major Chile copper mine surprise union leaders and threaten to strike

December 29, 2009 | 10:04 am

In a move that surprised union leaders, workers at the Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile rejected the latest wage offer from state-owned Codelco and threatened to strike beginning this week.

Government officials expressed regret that workers at the mine, one of the world’s largest, did not favor an offer that included a nearly 4% wage increase and other benefits. Workers at Chuquicamata reportedly said the offer was not as good as a deal negotiated at privately owned La Escondida mine.

Union leaders had said workers at the Chuquicamata mine were expected to approve the proposed offer when they voted Monday.

Officials say the Chuquicamata mine produces about 4% of the copper used in the world. Miners have sought more benefits and threatened strikes as the government and private businesses have benefited from rising copper prices despite economic difficulties worldwide.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.