WRAPUP 2-Strikers halt Chilean Codelco's operations for 24 hours

Tue Apr 9, 2013 1:42pm EDT
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* Strike comes amid CESCO/CRU copper conference in Santiago

* Work stoppage to cost Codelco more than $35 mln

* Private mines operating normally but some have delayed shifts

By Anthony Esposito and Antonio De la Jara

SANTIAGO, April 9 (Reuters) - Workers at Chile's state mining company Codelco went on a 24-hour strike on Tuesday to demand better job security and safety improvements, but miners at some private copper companies just delayed the start of their shifts.

Codelco union bosses timed the strike to coincide with the international copper industry's CESCO/CRU conference in Chile's capital, the biggest meeting of its kind in the world.

While the 24-hour strike is not expected to have much impact on output from the world's No. 1 copper producing country, Codelco workers have steadily pressed management for better conditions over recent months, raising the specter that a steady drip-drip of labor actions could end up slowing output.

Tuesday's strike comes on the heels of an extended port strike, which delayed copper shipments and cost Chile's fruit and forestry producers untold millions.

Most ports in Chile, including key ports in the mineral-rich north, have returned to normal operations after the extended strike.   Continued...