Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Friday assigned the Minister of Labor to form a commission in order to address a union strike at Colombia’s most productive mine.
“I have asked the Minister of Labor to personally go to Cerrejon…and do everything possible so that this strike is not successful, that it does not continue, because the damage to the entire world would be very large,” said Santos.
“No one wins, the country loses,” President Santos added. “You lose… because every day that passes [there are] forgone royalties and foregone incomes that for the most part go to social investment.”
Workers from the Sintracarbon coal miners union began a strike on Thursday to demand a compromise involving better pay, health and safety conditions with companies that operate Colombia’s Cerrejon coal mine.
“Since November 29th, when we handed over a list of demands to the company, this union has sought that Cerrejon Coal, owned by multinational companies Glencore-Xstrata, Anglo American, and BHP Billiton, recognize justice, fairness, and the legitimacy of [workers’] requests for health and occupational hazard [coverage], dignity of its employees, equity with its contract workers, environmental protection of the Guajira [department], and respect to the communities of the region,” said union representatives of Sintracarbon.
The Cerrejon mine is the most productive mine in Colombia, according to local media, and accounts for 59.7% of GDP in the northern Guajira department. Cerrejon Coal is responsible for some 5% of coal sales in the world and employs roughly 12,000 people.