Workers at Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO:US), the world's fifth-largest copper producer, may strike at the company's Ilo smelter later this week, a union official said today.
Unions expect to receive a permit from Peru's Labor Ministry tomorrow and will hold a meeting on Feb. 22 to set a date for the strike, union official Ricardo Juarez said.
Unions say the company has failed to discuss a new labor contract ahead of a Feb. 28 deadline. Southern filed a legal motion to block the union's action because they say the current labor agreements are valid through May.
``The company isn't sitting down to talk,'' Juarez said in a telephone interview from Ilo in southern Peru. It's ``probable'' that the unions will decide to strike this week, he said.
Company officials say the action is illegal and the ministry will stop the strike from proceeding.
``There won't be any strike,'' company spokesman Manuel Ramirez said in a phone interview from Ilo.
Strikes at Southern's La Caridad and Cananea copper mines in Mexico and BHP Billiton Ltd.'s La Escondida mine in Chile reduced output and helped drive up copper prices last year. The strikes cut Southern Copper's production by 90,000 tons.
The Ilo smelter processes about 1.2 million metric tons of copper a year. The 855-member Ilo union threatened on Feb. 12 to begin their strike today.
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