Strike lifted at Venezuela steelmaker Sidor: Union

Workers reach agreement over outdated benefit claims

CARACAS (Reuters) — A 10-day strike at Venezuelan steelmaker Sidor is over after workers reached agreement with management over benefits claims stretching back years, union and company sources said.

"Operations re-started on Sunday with the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift," the local Sutiss union's president Jose Luis Hernandez told Reuters, confirming agreement over the back payments.

"We're back to work. The production lines are totally operative," added a company source, who asked not to be named.

Sidor has an installed annual capacity of 5 million tonnes, but output has tumbled since its nationalization five years ago due to frequent protests and insufficient investment.

Production in 2012 reached a 16-year low of 1.5 million tonnes. Sidor's goal for this year is to reach 4.45 million tonnes of liquid steel, but workers doubt output will reach even half that.

The steelmaker's woes are part of a general malaise in the South American OPEC nation's once-buoyant metals industry.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro estimated losses from the Sidor strike at about $40 million, though workers estimate a figure four times higher.

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