US coal mining company hit by strike in Colombia

Workers at US mining company Drummond have gone on strike in Colombia Wednesday to demand higher pay and job stability, union leaders said.

The company is the second largest coal producer in the Latin American country, with annual production of 26 million tons in 2012.

"No agreement was reached with the company, and we decided to begin the strike," labor leader John Mendoza said.

He said the strike would involve about 3,000 unionized workers.

Mines Minister Federico Rengifo expressed regret, warning a strike "would not be good for the workers, and it would not be good for the country."

Drummond, which has been in Colombia since 1998, operates three mines there -- La Jagua, La Loma and El Descanso.

The union says it wants to save the jobs of 400 workers who face layoffs when an upgrade to cargo loading facilities in the port of Santa Marta is completed.

It also is demanding a 10 percent pay increase over the current average monthly salary of $1,400.