Colombian union officials said on Monday that the country’s top coal exporter, Cerrejon, had two more days to offer a better compensation deal for workers or members would vote on whether to strike.
Cerrejon — a joint venture owned equally by BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Xstrata — and a union have been in discussions over a pay deal since early December and the deadline for a new pact was on Monday.
“We didn’t arrive at any deal. We were close on some things but there was no deal, not even partial deals,” Francisco Ramirez, a consultant for the union and member of a union federation, told Reuters by telephone.
“The union has said that it’s going to give the company two more days to present a better offer …. If not, from the 20th (of January) voting will begin for a strike,” said Ramirez, who was present at the talks.
Cerrejon confirmed that there was no deal signed before the end of talks on Monday over health, transport and other issues that had been ongoing since December 9.
“However, the negotiating committees of management and of the union continue conversations to look for a deal,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.
Unions use the threat of strikes for leverage in bargaining talks with mining and oil companies, which have been returning to Colombia after a fall in guerrilla violence.
Cerrejon exported about 31.5 million tonnes of coal last year compared with 30.3 million tonnes in 2009, preliminary data showed. Colombia is the world’s No. 5 coal exporter.