Strike plans suspended at Southern Copper Peru

LIMA, July 21 Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:13pm BST

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LIMA, July 21 (Reuters) - A strike planned to start on Monday at Southern Copper's PCU.N(SPC.LM) Peruvian mine Cuajone has been temporarily suspended pending mediation, officials from the company and union said.

Southern, one of the world's largest copper producers, has been hit by strikes this year in Peru as workers demand a larger slice of the country's economic boom.

Union leaders had planned to go on strike again because the company had threatened to fire about a dozen workers for participating in recent walkouts.

But Roman More, head of the union at Cuajone, said the strike slated for Monday was called off as the company agreed to sit down with workers and the government for talks on Tuesday. Unions from the company's Ilo smelter and Toquepala mine were also expected to participate.

"We are going to meet on Tuesday to see if we can reach an agreement about the firings. The meetings were requested by the government," More said.

Alberto Giles, the company's human resources director, said the strike plans were scrapped.

"In the case of Cuajone ... they suspended the strike plan," he said. "With regards to Ilo, the strike was supposed to start on Wednesday, but I don't think there will be a strike. I think the strike will also be canceled at Ilo."

Cuajone, which produced some 148,939 tonnes of copper last year, is Southern's biggest mine in Peru, the world's No. 2 copper producer.

SHOUGANG

High global metals prices have pushed workers to demand a bigger slice of corporate profits by repeatedly going on strike in the Andean country this year.

Workers at Shougang Hierro Peru (SHP.LM), an iron ore pit owned by China's Shougang, entered the eighth day of a strike on Monday, union leader Julio Ortiz said.

Raul Vera, the mine's general manager, said the strike was affecting production, but did not say by how much. The mine sold 7.7 million tonnes of iron ore last year. (Reporting by Terry Wade, Marco Aquino, and Maria Luisa Palomino; editing by Jim Marshall)

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