May 20, 2013
Workers strike again at Peru's Cerro Verde mine
The 1,100 workers had previously downed tools for five days starting on Sept. 14 to demand better pay, but the company hired temporary laborers to keep output steady.
Union members went back to work to avoid the government declaring the first strike illegal while negotiations to replace the labor contract that expired on Aug. 31 continued.
Strikes deemed illegal by the government give companies the right to fire or sanction workers.This time around, workers say they have prepared better to paralyze output and copper traders are tracking the walkout.
"We already have workers on hold," William Camacho, of the Cerro Verde union in the southern city of Arequipa, told reporters.
"We've done all the paperwork to ensure operations are suspended at the mine," he said.
LME copper hit a session high of $7,218.75 a tonne on Thursday after US data suggested a recession was not in the cards and the Cerro Verde strike tightened the supply picture.
Company officials were not immediately available to say whether they had brought in temporary workers.
Peru's labor ministry declared the strike legal on first instance earlier this week, a decision the company has appealed, Camacho said.
If the government of leftist President Ollanta Humala upholds the ruling, the strike could potentially drag on for weeks, or it could pressure the company to reach a labor accord quickly with workers.
Freeport McMoran representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Peruvian precious metals miner Buenaventura also has a stake in the mine.
Cerro Verde produced 312,336 tonnes of copper in 2010 in Peru, the world's No. 2 producer.