Workers end Chile mine strike

01-09-2006

Strike action at the world's largest copper mine in Chile is over after union members voted to end a 25-day protest.

BHP Billiton, the mine's majority-owner, said workers at Escondida, in Chile's Atacama Desert, will return to work on Saturday, after an agreement was brokered with Minera La Escondida.

Union workers agreed to a new pay deal including bonus payments for ending talks, as well as an interest-free loan and a five per cent increase in base salary.

The deal also includes scope for better health, education and housing benefits for the workers and their families.

Melbourne-based BHP Billiton, which owns 57.5 per cent of Escondida, posted a record annual net profit of more than $10 billion (£5.3 billion) during the last 12 months.

BHP last month said the strike action had cut operating capacity at the mine to 40 per cent.

Chile produces more than a third of the world's copper.


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