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Workers at Codelco's Andina copper mine turn down contract offer, gird for strike

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By Fabian Cambero

SANTIAGO, July 29 (Reuters) - Workers at Chile's Andina copper mine operated by state-owned Codelco turned down the firm's offer for a new collective contract on Thursday, paving the way for a potential strike at the facility, the union told Reuters.

A total of 835 members of the Industrial Union of Labor Integration (SIIL) and the Unified Workers' Union (SUT) voted by 97.1% to reject Codelco's latest contract offer.

"The company has to change its latest offer, it is not possible to negotiate on that basis," Nelson Caceres, president of SIIL, told Reuters.

The parties must now enter a compulsory five-day, government-led mediation process, extendable by another five days, to try and reach a deal.

If this cannot be achieved after that period is completed, workers are legally within their rights to strike.

"If the company calls for mediation we will be there to sit down to negotiate," Caceres said. If not, he added, a strike would start with the first miners' shift on Aug. 3.

Andina produced 184,000 tonnes of copper in 2020, around 11% of the total output of Codelco, the world's largest producer of the red metal, and 3% of Chile's. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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