SMM8, Feb. 2 / PRNewswire-FirstCall-Asianet / BHP Billiton workers at Chile's Escondida copper mine voted down the company's pay rise proposal and went on strike. A total of 2330 members voted, of whom 1955 voted in favour of the strike and 370 chose to accept BHP's final offer, four of whom did not vote and one vote was invalid, the statement said.
"We hope that a clear rejection of the management proposal will show them the need to reach an agreement to ensure our rights," the statement added.
BHP Billiton is expected to ask the government to mediate a settlement, but that will only delay the strike for at most 10 days.
Earlier, the Escondida union had said that if workers voted in favour of a strike, the strike would last at least a month.
Last week, BHP Billiton's final offer included a signing bonus of about $18000 and a 1.5 per cent wage increase. But the union demanded about twice the signing bonus offered by the company and a 5 per cent pay rise. As BHP Billiton's terms fell far short of the union's demands, the talks eventually broke down.
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