| BOGOTA, April 17
BOGOTA, April 17 A coal union at Drummond's
Colombian unit has finished drafting a three-year labor proposal
and demanded workers get a monthly wage, improved safety
conditions and better health benefits, a union leader said on
Luis Manuel Mendoza said the union will present the demands
to the company before April 30 and that the parties could reach
an agreement within 20 days.
Drummond is Colombia's second largest coal miner
and last year produced 26 million tonnes, almost one-third of
all the coal produced in the Andean country. A new contract
would cover 4,980 workers in Colombia, Mendoza said.
"Almost 90 percent of Drummond's workers are paid by the
hour. We want the company to pay all workers a monthly salary,"
said union leader Luis Manuel Mendoza.
He said the workers want Drummond to pay workers a monthly
wage that will be in line with their hourly wages, indicating
they will be earning the same amount of money. He declined to
give a reason for being paid monthly.
"We don't think that this will imply a higher expense for
He said the union is also demanding improved health benefits
and improved mine safety.
"We hope to reach an agreement in 10 or 15 days ... but it
will all depend on the company's willingness to negotiate,"
Drummond did not immediately respond to an emailed request
Workers at Colombia's largest coal producer, Cerrejon,
walked off the job for more than a month in February, demanding
better wages and benefits and forcing the company to declare
force majeure on some cargoes.
Weeks of difficult negotiations led to the signing of a
three-year agreement last month, but because of the length of
the strike, Cerrejon said it will be unable to reach its 2013
production goal of 34 million tonnes.
Cerrejon, owned by Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton
Ltd and Xstrata Plc, is one of Colombia's top
companies and its mine in Guajira province is one of the world's
largest open-pit operations.
The Cerrejon strike was the last major supply problem
remaining in Colombia, the world's No. 4 coal exporter.
Colombia's environmental regulator lifted a month-long
suspension in March on Drummond's port following an incident,
and a ban on overnight trains at the country's main coal railway
over noise concerns.
Coffee growers and truck drivers also halted work and
blocked roads earlier this year to demand more government
subsidies and lower fuel costs.
The string of labor disputes likely affected the nation's
economic growth in the first quarter, the finance ministry said
The majority of Colombia's coal goes to the United States
and Europe, but the industry has increasingly looked to
diversify into Latin America and Asia.
Colombian coal exports fell 4.7 percent in 2012 to 77.4
million tonnes from 81.2 million tonnes in 2011, hit by labor
disputes while the value of coal shipments dropped 7 percent to