By Robert Kozak
LIMA, Peru--Unionized workers at Southern Copper Corp.'s (>> Southern Copper Corp) Cuajone and Toquepala mines and its Ilo smelter and refinery in Peru went on strike Monday to back demands for salary increases, a union official said.
"The strike is taking place at Cuajone, Toquepala and Ilo," said Ricardo Juarez, secretary general of the worker's union at Ilo, in a telephone interview.
He said the two-day walkout was a warning to the company: If no new contract is reached, then a general, indefinite strike will start on January 15.
Talks between the company and unions aimed at reaching a new collective-bargaining agreement have been suspended.
"The negotiations were going nowhere," Mr. Juarez said. He said the company has hired replacement workers during the current strike.
Southern Copper operates mines, smelting and refining facilities in Mexico and Peru. Grupo Mexico (GMEXICO.MX) owns a majority stake in Southern Copper.
In the third quarter of 2012, Southern Copper's copper production reached 160,379 metric tons. The company also produces molybdenum and other products.
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