Cerrejon is a coal mining venture that BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Xstrata own in Colombia. Each company holds 33.3% of stake in the mine. The union of mine workers at the mine have voted in favour of a walkout over wage issues. The National Union of Coal Industry Workers represent 96% of the current employee strength at the mine.
Alvaro Lopez, head of labour relations at the mine said that the negotiations about wages and worker demands will resume next week. He was hopeful that both sides would be able to reach a compromise that would avert the walkout.
A strike by the union workers would paralyze the mine and bring production operations to a halt. Cerrejon is the largest open pit mine in the world that produces coal for export from Colombia. The problems at the mine have not been unique. All over Latin America mine workers are rallying for higher salaries and more perks.
The price of metals, minerals and coal have gone up tremendously in the last couple of years thanks to the growing demand from Asian markets in general and China in particular. Igor Diaz, the union’s president said that it was only right that the workers benefited from a part of the profits that the mining companies were generating.