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42-day strike in Chile ends with extended agreement

29 March, 2017Union nº1 at the Escondida mine in Chile has ended a 42-day strike, using an article in the law allowing them to extend the current collective agreement for another 18 months.

The 42-day strike, triggered when management failed to agree to a new collective employment contract, is the longest and most costly strike in the history of Chile’s private mining sector.

Minera Escondida – owned by Australian mining giant BHP Billiton – refused to accept the union’s main demands:

  • Maintain the benefits in the current collective agreement
  • Respect rest breaks
  • Extend benefits negotiated in previous agreements to new worker

The company insisted on introducing different pay levels and benefits for new workers to lower future labour costs.

As the union and company failed to reach an agreement, the union ended negotiations and exercised its right to extend the current agreement, as set out in Labour Code article 369.

The workers will not receive the end of contract bonus or a pay rise for the next 18 months. However, when both sides return to the negotiating table in June 2018, new labour legislation will be in force. The new law introduces a “minimum wage rule” that will not allow BHP to offer new workers worse terms than those set out in the current collective agreement.

We have safeguarded the future for new generations of workers at this company,

said the union in an official statement.