Two weeks into an indefinite strike called by workers at Cerrejón, one of the largest open-pit coal mines in the world, the company has agreed to sit down again and negotiate with Colombia’s National Union of Coal Industry Workers (Sintracarbón).
Negotiations, which had been broken off by Carbones del Cerrejón on Sunday, Feb. 17, are back on track with tentative meetings between company representatives and leaders of Sintracarbón, an affiliate of IndustriALL, a global trade union organisation that represents 50 million workers in a 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. Representatives of both sides met in the afternoon of Feb 22 to “discuss the methodology for resuming negotiations,” Sintracarbón president Igor Díaz announced on Twitter.
The decision by Carbones del Cerrejón — a joint venture between the multinational corporations Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata — to return to the negotiating table was most likely influenced by a change in attitude on the part of the Colombian government, who stepped in to play a role as mediator in this conflict.
There has been massive support for striking workers among local communities, including those suffering because of mine expansion. This is largely because of the support shown by mine workers for the communities facing relocation as the mine expands, and the workers’ rejection of the company’s plan to divert the River Rancheria. A recent armed attack on mine property has been condemned by both major mining unions, SINTRACARBON and FUNTRAENERGETICA.
For background, see http://londonminingnetwork.org/2013/02/%ef%bb%bfstrike-declared-at-el-cerrejon/.
To show support for the workers, see http://londonminingnetwork.org/2013/02/take-action-to-support-mine-workers-hungry-villagers-in-colombia/.