A strike at Yamana Gold’s El Peñón gold mine in northern Chile ended on Jan. 17, after union leaders reached a wage agreement with the Toronto-based company.
The strike began on Jan. 7 as workers from one union, representing underground employees, downed tools and suspended operations following the breakdown of collective bargaining negotiations. Union leaders demanded an eight per cent increase in wages and a transportation bonus. A second union, also for underground workers, had been in a “strike position” at the time.
It is unclear what compromise was reached by company representatives and workers, but Yamana announced that both unions had reached new agreements in line with the company’s final counter offer of a two per cent wage hike and a transportation bonus, covering 40 and 48 months respectively.
Union No.2 President Eduardo Puelles, whose union represents 500 workers, told Reuters that strikers had blocked access to several key roads leading to the site after the strike began. The company reported picketing and blockades in early January, as well as some damaged equipment and an “illegal” sit-in at the employee camp staged by one of the unions.
In a statement, Yamana announced that operations had resumed after workers relinquished the camp to allow for a conclusion of negotiations. Operations are reported to have resumed at pre-strike capacity without significant impact on production. The company expects to recover production from other operations in the short term and from El Peñón throughout the year.
Union workers at the Minera Florida mine in central Chile entered into a collective bargaining agreement with Yamana in early January despite threats of a strike, and the mine and plant are operating at full capacity. Yamana had also entered a collective bargaining agreement with the union representing supervisors at El Peñón.
El Peñón is Yamana’s second-largest mine, producing more than 17 per cent of the company’s total gold output in 2016.