BOGOTA, June 3 (Reuters) - Former workers have again blocked
Colombian coal miner Cerrejon's rail line, the company said on
Thursday, the latest protest to recently affect the beleaguered
Cerrejon, jointly owned by BHP Group, Anglo
American Plc and Glencore Plc, has had repeated
disagreements with nearby Wayuu indigenous communities and its
largest union, which held a three-month strike last year.
The company in late May declared force majeure and halted
operations because of two blockades which prevented it from
bringing in supplies of gasoline. One was mounted by former
workers upset by recent job cuts and another by members of a
nearby indigenous community which has made repeated
environmental complaints about Cerrejon.
The company and the government had conversations with
ex-workers blocking the company rail line and the Media Luna
community, which was barricading a road out of Cerrejon's port.
They made deals late last week to lift blockades and on Saturday
Cerrejon said it would gradually restart operations.
But the group of former employees, who left the company in
February, has once again blocked the line, Cerrejon said.
"The company asks the authorities for their immediate
intervention in the face of the illegal blockades and actions
which put in danger the employment stability of more than 9,000
families," Cerrejon said in a statement.
It said it is willing to hold further talks with workers,
but not under the pressure of illegal barricades.
It said the workers let go were given more generous benefits
than those required by law, but did not accept them. It said it
told them they will not be rehired.
Cerrejon produced 12.4 million tonnes of coal in 2020, down
almost 52% from 2019, and its exports fell to their lowest level
in the past 18 years amid coronavirus restrictions and falling
global demand for coal.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by David Gregorio)