Southern Copper, Workers to Sign Three-Year Labor Accord

Southern Copper Corp., the largest producer of the metal in Peru, will sign a three-year labor agreement this week with its workers, avoiding a potential strike, a union leader said.

Southern Copper agreed to pay a 6.5 percent wage increase in the first year of the accord, followed by annual 5 percent increases, smelter union leader Ricardo Juarez said. Workers, who held a two-day strike in December, had threatened another work stoppage this month if no deal was reached.

“There are some pending issues such as health and safety, but we’ve worked out the main points,” Juarez said in a telephone interview from Lima. “We should sign the accord soon.”

Workers in Peru, Bolivia and Chile have held work stoppages at copper, zinc, iron and gold mines over the past 12 months to push for a bigger slice of company earnings. Peru’s Mining Federation plans a national strike this month.

Spokesman Alberto Giles and labor negotiator Manuel Ramirez didn’t immediately return telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Southern Copper, based in Phoenix, fell 2.9 percent to $37.49 at the close in New York.

Copper futures for May delivery declined 1.1 percent to $3.625 a pound at 1:22 p.m. on the Comex in New York.