- Cerrejon and its largest workers’ union Sintracarbon is going to hold technical discussions about a controversial work schedule it had proposed
- On 31 August, Sintarcarbón launched a strike and rejected a shift change introduced by Cerrejon that would add 72 working days per year
- On its part, Cerrejon said the new shift is required to ensure the current and future sustainability of the firm amid low coal prices
Colombian coal miner Cerrejon and its largest workers’ union Sintracarbon have agreed to hold technical discussions about a controversial work schedule it had proposed in order to end the strike, which started on 31 August.
It has been reported that the strike was called after the Colombian coal miner and its union Sintracarbon failed to reach agreements about shift change, pay rises, education and health allowance and living benefits for workers.
The major conflict between the two parties was that the company had decided to implement a new shift plan, which added 72 working days per year for the workers without any wage benefit. Members of the union said the company wanted to implement the new shift without giving any details, which prompted the workers to name the new shift as the ‘shift of death’.
The controversy led to mediation from a tribunal formed by the Labour Ministry in order to resolve the conflict amid the ongoing strike. According to sources, the officials in the ministry summoned the parties to open a dialogue, but Cerrejón did not respond.
The workers had said under the new shift, the workers won't get any recovery time to transport home between shifts, which would disturb their personal life and cause irreparable damage to their health.
Correjon, on the other hand, said the technical negotiations about the new shift plan would focus on issues such as safety and health, including workers' sleep and fatigue, legal conflicts, lodging, transportation, social assistance for the families of the workers, etc.
The company added that the new shift is required to ensure the current and future sustainability of the firm amid low coal prices and falling demand due to the pandemic.
Sintracarbon pointed out that the new shift will compel the staff to work 21 days each month instead of 15 and will affect worker’s health and lead to 1,250 job cuts. The coal miner had said only 700 jobs would be slashed.
Earlier in August, the Sintracarbon union had said that nearly 99 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the strike after extended talks over salary increase ended without agreement. Union president Igor Diaz said that the union was willing to continue talks and had requested the involvement of the Colombia Labor Ministry.
In the meantime, Cerrejon, which is owned by mining colossuses BHP Group, Anglo American and Glencore, is planning to suspend bus services from the cities of Valledupar, Barranquilla and some areas of Guajira's towns. The move will prompt some coal workers to sleepover in towns that will be nearby to the complex at their own cost.