Three day strike at Venezuelan steelmaker

A National Guard member arrests a protester of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during violent clashes March 3 in Caracas.

Workers launched a 72-hour strike at Venezuela’s largest steelmaker, Ternium Sidor, late on Tuesday to protest stalled contract talks.

“The strike is for 72 hours and it started last night,” said union leader Jose Rodriguez.

Workers have repeatedly shut Sidor, 60 percent owned by Argentina’s Ternium, as part of demands for higher pay in what has been a 14-month dispute for a collective contract. The union on Monday called a 24-hour strike as part of the same dispute.

This is the sixth time this year that the plant, located in the southwest state of Bolivar, has been shut down as part of demands for higher pay. The union says it will not accept a daily salary increase of less than 53 Bs.F (US$24), however, the company says its final offer is 44Bs.F (US$20.5) per day.

An earlier protest by Sidor workers on March 14, in the midst of an 80 hour strike, was broken up violently by 120 functionaries of the Bolivar section of the National Guard and 60 state police. One union leader was wounded by gunfire and more than 50 people were arrested during the clashes.

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