Rail strike halts much of Colombia's coal exports

Strike at Colombia railway freezes much of coal exports by South America's No. 1 coal exporter

Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- A strike that began more than a week ago in Colombia has paralyzed the railway that carries much of the nation's coal exports. Colombia is South America's No. 1 coal exporter.

The president of rail operator Feneco says trains normally move about 160,000 tons a day of coal on the line to the Caribbean port of Santa Marta. Peter Burrowes says that is 60 percent of Colombia's coal exports and companies affected since the strike began July 23 include Swiss-based Glencore International PLC and U.S.-based Drummond Co. Inc.

Union leader Felix Herrera says strikers want raises of at least 15 percent and reinstatement of 30 workers fired during a 2009 strike. He says the 300 striking workers earn an average of about $550 a month.

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