Strike won’t affect Polpaico’s operations, Chile

Strike won’t affect Polpaico’s operations, Chile
Published: 13 January 2009

A workers’ strike at Chilean cement firm Polpaico’s concrete producer Pétreos will not affect the company’s production, a Polpaico official told BNamericas.

Workers from Pétreos’ union number three began the strike on January 8.

The firm held negotiations with the workers for a total of 45 days but failed to reach an agreement on salary increases and end-conflict bonuses, the official said.

"We believe the workers’ requests are not in accordance with these times, as the financial situation and the effect it has had on the cement industry makes it impossible for our company to comply with their demands," the official added.

"We are asking for fair salary increases. It’s time for Polpaico’s management to listen to our demands," a union member told BNamericas.

The union represents only 15% of Pétreos’ 640 workers, and their positions have already been replaced temporarily, a move authorized by Chile’s employment authority, the official said.

Polpaico’s main shareholder Holcim reported positive figures in Latin America for 2008.

The problem with cement and concrete is that prices have remained relatively stable, but energy and fuel costs have increased, reducing margins, the Polpaico official said.

In the January-September 2008 period, cement sales in Latin America went up 4% from 19.8Mt to 20.6Mt, aggregates increased 6.4% to 10Mt from 9.4Mt and ready mix concrete went up 15.4% from 7.8Mt to 9Mt.

Comparing 3Q08 with the same period in 2007, cement sales remained flat at 6.9Mt, aggregates went up 3% from 3.3Mt to 3.4Mt and ready mix concrete increased 7.1% from 2.8Mt to 3Mt, a company release said.