Cerro Verde union lifts two-month-old strike
Workers at Freeport McMoRan's Peruvian copper mine, Cerro Verde, have decided to lift their nearly two-month-old strike and return to work on Wednesday.
Posted: Tuesday , 29 Nov 2011
LIMA (Reuters) -
Workers have decided to lift their nearly two-month-old strike at Freeport-McMoRan's (FCX.N: Quote) Peruvian copper mine Cerro Verde and will return to their jobs on Wednesday, union leader Leoncio Amudio said on Monday.
Both sides failed to reach an accord on a new labor pact, but the union said its members will return to work after receiving guarantees that the regional government of Arequipa will unilaterally draw up the wage pact to end the dispute.
"We've decided to call off the strike so that the regional government can take a decision," Amudio told Reuters.
The end of the walkout could provide relief to Freeport, whose share price has been hit by a strike that has run into a third month at its Indonesian mine Grasberg, the world's No. 2 copper mine.
Freeport's shares were up 5.5 percent on Monday at $35.73 each, thanks in part global metals prices that were recovering from a prolonged rout.
Talks at Cerro Verde, which normally produces 2 percent of the world's copper, had been snagged over the size of the wage increase for workers.
At one point union members said Cerro Verde had offered a 5 percent raise for 2011 and 4 percent for the next two years but workers demand increases of 6 percent and 5.5 percent.
Previously, the mine that produces 2 percent of the world's copper offered a 3 percent raise while the 1,000-some workers who laid down their tools on Sept. 29 had originally demanded 11 percent, union leaders said.
A Freeport-McMoRan (FCX.N: Quote) spokesman has said Cerro Verde was running at two-thirds its normal daily rate with staff who volunteered to work under strike conditions.
Analysts expect lower production in the fourth quarter. Cerro Verde produced 312,336 tonnes of copper in 2010.
Workers have been able to stay on the picket line for weeks because, for the first time in Cerro Verde's 40 year history, leftist President Ollanta Humala's government declared the walkout legal. But since that ruling Humala's office has shown little interest in intervening in the dispute.
(Reporting by Omar Mariluz;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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