Chilean port workers ending strike, union leader says

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 05, 2013 9:54 PM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Workers at Chile's Angamos port are lifting their roughly three-week strike, and the larger work stoppage that has slammed copper, forestry and fruit exports in the world's top red metal producer will also end, a union leader told Reuters late on Friday.

Other ports in export-dependent Chile had joined the strike in the northern port of Angamos in Mejillones out of solidarity.

"Angamos has signed," Valparaiso port union leader Jorge Bustos said. Calls to union leaders and government representatives in Angamos went unanswered.

Bustos said the strike would be lifted in some ports at 11 p.m. on Friday (2 a.m. GMT on Saturday) and at 8 a.m. (11 a.m. GMT) on Saturday at other ports.

Angamos launched the strike to seek a 30-minute lunch break and other minor benefits. What some observers call poor management of a simple, specific worker issue then ballooned into a serious drag on miners and export-dependent Chile.

Around 9,000 tonnes of copper were unable to leave Chilean ports every day due to the strike, the government had said.

The Andean country lost more than $200 million a day due to the conflict, according to the country's business chamber.

Mining industry sources say it will take weeks to return to normal shipping operations because of the congestion in ports.

(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Philip Barbara)