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Sintracarbón signs agreement with Cerrejón Colombia and avoids strike action

4 March, 2024Colombian union Sintracarbón signed a collective bargaining agreement with multinational Carbones del Cerrejón Limited on 27 February, ending a dispute and preventing a strike. The agreement provides for additional benefits, including higher wages, the conversion of temporary contracts into permanent contracts and longer maternity leave.

On 22 February, the negotiating committee of Sintracarbón, one of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates in Colombia, announced its new collective bargaining agreement with Cerrejón. The agreement will govern the labour relations of 4,000 unionized workers at the Glencore-operated open pit mine in La Guajira and Puerto Bolivar.

The union then called off the ballot that had begun on 20 February for workers to vote on whether to go on strike or seek arbitration. The possibility of strike action was being considered, as the parties had completed 40 days of negotiations without reaching an agreement.

On 27 February, the company and the union signed the new collective agreement, valid for four years from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2027. Some of its key features are:

  • A 11.28 per cent wage increase for 2024.
  • 360 fixed-term contracts will be turned into permanent contracts.
  • Workers will be entitled to 15 additional days of paid leave after maternity leave, in accordance with Colombian law.
  • 800 living allowances will be awarded.
  • 240 university allowances will be provided.
  • Scholarships of excellence will be awarded for workers’ children entering postgraduate studies.

With the mining concession set to end in February 2034, one key achievement of the bargaining process was the union’s involvement in the mine closure plan. The parties signed a separate document agreeing that a bipartite committee will be set up to report and receive feedback on the progress of the mine closure plan.

"This agreement was reached after 49 days of hard work, in which our members played a key role. We were able to strike a balance between the company's offer, our proposal and the needs of those we represent. We would like to thank our colleagues for their commitment and dedication throughout the bargaining process,"

said the negotiating committee in an official statement.

IndustriALL’s regional secretary Marino Vani said:

"We congratulate Sintracarbón on signing a new collective bargaining agreement with Cerrejón. This will improve working conditions after a long process of dialogue and collective bargaining. We are pleased that they have negotiated a decent agreement that respects Sintracarbón's mineworkers."