Escondida Union to Copper Investors: Bet on Quick Wage Deal – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – June 7, 2018)

The world’s largest copper mine probably will avoid a repeat of last year’s prolonged strike as the two sides reign in expectations, according to a union leader.

The main union at Escondida in Chile presented its demands to owner BHP Billiton Ltd. on Friday, and the company has until the weekend to deliver its counteroffer. The two sides are scheduled to sit down for talks next week with the current contract expiring on July 31.

“If I was an investor, I would be betting on this being resolved quickly,” union spokesman Carlos Allendes said in an interview in Santiago on Wednesday. “Numbers show that, at the end of the day, a strike is no good for the company because they lost more than we did.”

BHP and its workers at Escondida failed to reach an agreement last year, leading to the longest mining strike in Chile’s modern history. In April, the two parties met again for early talks without reaching a deal.

The union is betting the company is feeling pressure from shareholders and won’t be able to stomach another prolonged stoppage. BHP declined to comment.

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