Union workers unhappy with working conditions under Australian coal mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) apparently are raising the stakes.
On Wednesday, a union official said workers will “step up industrial action,” according to a Reuters report, with 3,500 having begun a two-day strike across seven mines starting late Tuesday. The union is seeking better job security and higher pay, and workers believe the company has retreated on recent progress.
BHP shares slid about 1% Wednesday as the company remained unsure about what effects a possible stoppage would have on production; the seven mines account for about a fifth of the world’s output. However, Wednesday also saw declines among other miners, including BHP rival Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) and Brazilian outfit Vale (NYSE:VALE).
BHP and Rio each saw low single-digit declines last week on worries of lower commodity sales thanks to a slowing Chinese economy — China currently uses up half the world’s iron ore production — but had since recovered most of the gains.