Labor talks at BHP’s Escondida mine in Chile enter ‘home stretch’ – by Dave Sherwood and Antonio De la Jara (Reuters U.S. – July 6, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Labor negotiations at BHP Billiton Plc Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world’s largest, are entering into the final three weeks before a 30-month contract expires at the end of July.

The closely watched talks come little more than one year after failure to reach a labor deal at the sprawling deposit led to a 44-day strike that jolted the global copper market.

BHP and the union have reached agreement on about one-fifth of the “points of interest,” raised by either party, according to an internal union document seen by Reuters that summarized progress in negotiations during the month of June.

The union filed its demands with the company on June 1. The proposals include a one-time bonus equivalent to 4 percent of dividends distributed to shareholders in 2017, or between approximately $34,000 and $40,000 per worker, depending on the exchange rate and other factors. The union also requested a 5 percent increase in workers’ salaries.

BHP’s initial response on June 11 made no mention of either salary adjustments or the signing bonus. A Reuters point-by-point review of sticking points suggested the two parties were yet to reach a consensus in several areas. Carlos Allendes, a union official, confirmed to Reuters that they were “far from agreement” and accused BHP of “stubbornness.”

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