| SANTIAGO/LA SERENA, Chile
SANTIAGO/LA SERENA, Chile Oct 18 Unionized
workers at Chile's state-owned copper miner Codelco are mulling
going on a company-wide strike, possibly by mid-November, if the
government does not make progress on a number of demands, union
leaders told Reuters on Tuesday.
Codelco, the world No. 1 copper producer, returns
all its profits to the state and is funded by a mixture of
capitalization and debt. The recent sharp downturn in the copper
price has hit it hard when it needs to invest in new projects to
keep output flowing, forcing it to scale back ambitious
The Copper Mining Federation (FTC), which serves as the
umbrella organization for Codelco's unions, will ask Chile's
government for permanent capitalization for the company and to
overturn a law that requires that 10 percent of Codelco's
revenues support Chile's defense budget.
"By (mid-November) we could be organizing a strike if we
don't have a response from the government," said Marcelo Perez,
director of the Caletones union at Codelco's underground El
Codelco declined to comment.
According to Perez, the unions have not decided how long the
strike could last. However, Liliana Ugarte, who heads one of the
unions at the open-pit Chuquicamata mine, said on Friday that if
workers were to go on strike it would likely last 24 hours.
"We're going to get in touch with the Senate, Finance
Ministry and the President of the Republic and following all
those conversations we will again meet no more than 15 days
later and see if our demands have been met. If not we will call
for a 24-hour national strike, as a warning," said Ugarte.
Codelco produced 843,000 tonnes of copper in the first half
of the year.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bernard Orr)