Sintramienergetica union negotiator Humerto Suarez told Bloomberg that the agency’s officials were working to organize direct talks between it and US-based producer Drummond and were hoping those discussions could start Friday, the 10th day of the walkout.
“A deal in the next few days is possible,” he said Friday mid-day, noting that workers would return to their posts this week if Drummond agreed to a monthly salary instead of workers’ hourly wage.
Drummond has not released any public comment, but officials were reportedly present in talks early last week that ultimately broke down.
Colombia, South America’s second largest coal producer, is losing about $850,000 (1.6 billion pesos) in royalties daily during the strike, which came to a head last month as union workers requested better pay, benefits and working conditions.
Workers officially walked off the job July 23 after a vote to move ahead with the action.
As the strike rolled on, Bloomberg reported, about 100 Sintramienergetica members had set up camp near the Pribbenow mine entrance in the Cesar province.
Sintramienergetica represents about half of Drummond’s 10,000 mine, port and rail workers in the Andean nation.
According to the national mining agency, Drummond’s mines produced about 26 million metric tons of coal in 2012, so the country is losing approximately one-third of its output daily.
The stoppage is the second in the country this year. In February workers walked off the job for about a month at the Cerrejon complex.
Cerrejon is jointly owned by BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Anglo American.