US coal miner Drummond hit by indefinite workers’ strike in Colombia

24 July 2013 (Last Updated July 24th, 2013 18:30)

US coal miner Drummond is facing an indefinite strike by workers protesting against planned layoffs at its Colombian operations.

coal

US coal miner Drummond is facing an indefinite strike by workers protesting against planned layoffs at its Colombian operations.

The strike began on Tuesday after the workers union Sintramienergetica and the company failed to reach an agreement following weeks of negotiations over better pay and job cuts at its port, reports Reuters.

Sintramienergetica vice-president Edgar Munoz was quoted by Reuters as saying that the union is open to talks with the company and could suspend the strike if the company agrees to its terms.

"It is indefinite," Munoz said. "Unfortunately the company wouldn't budge. It's a pity."

Due to the strike, production at Drummond's Alabama and Colombia operations have been halted.

Last month, the company announced that it will axe up to 425 mining jobs from its operations in Jefferson, Walker and Tuscaloosa counties, reports All Alabama .

According to a notification filed with the authorities, the job cuts will start from 9 September and are part of the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification laws.

"We are convinced that it is an excellent proposal, especially taking into account current low prices for coal in the industry and those expected in coming years."

Workers in Drummond's Colombian operations are demanding a hike of 9% pay for this year with smaller inflation-linked increments in subsequent years.

Just hours before the strike, Drummond said it is ready to offer 4.75% for the first year and a one-off bonus of about $3,700 to workers.

"We are convinced that it is an excellent proposal, especially taking into account current low prices for coal in the industry and those expected in coming years," Drummond's said.

In 2012, Drummond produced 26 million tonnes of coal, or almost one-third of the country's total output.

Drummond, which is the world's fourth coal exporter, operates the Shoal Creek mine in northwestern part of Jefferson County in Alabama and the Pribbenow and El Descanso mines near La Loma in the Guajira Department in northern Colombia.


Image: Drummond produced 26 million tonnes of coal in 2012 in Colombia. Photo: courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net.

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