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Drummond’s Colombian Coal Workers Set Three-Year Wage Proposal

Workers at Drummond Co., Colombia’s second-biggest thermal coal producer, voted to push for monthly salaries versus hourly wages in a proposed three-year labor accord, a union official said.

The union will send the company by April 30 a list of demands which include improved health care, education, food, housing loans and safety including guaranteed benefits for accident victims, negotiator Jhon Mendoza said. The 5,000-member union expects to reach an agreement with the company within three weeks, he said.

“Our demands are in line with the existing reality,” Mendoza said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “We want better labor guarantees to compensate for the struggle of the underpaid and abusive mining industry of these multi-nationals.”

Coal workers in March ended a month-long strike at the Cerrejon mine owned by BHP Billiton Plc, Xstrata Plc and Anglo American Plc after negotiating annual pay rises and better health insurance. Colombia lost as much as 3 million metric tons of coal output in the first quarter, Energy and Mines Minister Federico Renjifo said April 9.

Drummond, based in Birmingham, Alabama, restarted coal exports last month after the government lifted a three-week ban on its loading operations March 1. The government is investigating a Jan. 12-13 incident in which Drummond dumped water mixed with coal into the sea to prevent a barge from sinking.

Drummond controls more than 2 billion tons of reserves and shipped about 29 million tons of coal in 2011, according to its website. Paulo Gonzalez, a Drummond spokesman, didn’t respond to telephone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.

Thermal coal for delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp in 2014 fell for a fourth session, dropping 0.2 percent to $92.50 a ton today, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg.

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