(Adds context, detail throughout)
SANTIAGO Feb 20 A government-mediated meeting
between BHP Billiton and striking workers at its
Escondida copper mine in Chile has failed, and workers will head
back to their encampment without any future dialogue planned, a
union spokesman said on Monday.
"The company is continuing with their stubborn posture, and
thus there is nothing to discuss anymore and we're going back to
our camp," spokesman Carlos Allendes told Reuters after the
BHP was not immediately available for comment.
The meeting, in the Chilean capital Santiago, was called by
the government's Labor Ministry in hopes of ending a 12-day
strike that has pushed copper prices to 20-month highs
amid supply concerns. The metal was trading at $6,070 per tonne
at 7:38 p.m. (2239 GMT).
The sitdown was aimed at getting the two sides to commit to
a schedule of fresh wage talks, after initial negotiations
For days, however, it was unclear if the meeting would even
take place as BHP blamed striking workers for interfering with
non-unionized service employees on their shift changes.
The union had said in response that there were no blockades
and that the buses with the contractors were allowed through,
but that workers had checked that no strike-breakers were
entering the mine.
In terms of demands, the company and union are far apart on
a number of issues, including shift pattern changes, the size of
a one-off bonus, and BHP's wish to give new workers lower
Escondida is majority-controlled by BHP with minority
interests held by Rio Tinto and Japanese
companies including Mitsubishi Corp. The mine produced
about 5 percent of the world's copper in 2016.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing
by Sandra Maler)