2,000 Peru Miners Strike for Health Care, Workplace Rights

Update: Striking mine workers are standing strong despite the Peru Ministry of Labor declaring their strike illegal during a second appeal process yesterday and company threats to fire all the workers if they do not return to work by Wednesday. Construction workers, members of the Peruvian General Workers Confederation (CGTP), announced that they will join the strike in solidarity.

On Sunday, police fired tear gas at strikers as they walked a picket line near an industrial railroad bridge above the Osmore River. The striking workers now control both sides of the bridge, preventing rail passage of the minerals from the mines to the nearby town of Ilo, where there is the refinery and the port. On Tuesday, the SUT-SPCC union is conducting worker assemblies in Ilo to make decisions for next steps.

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Some 2,000 miners on strike at Southern Copper Corp. in Peru (SPCC) are meeting with government negotiators again today over issues that prompted their walkout: improved profit-sharing, better medical care, an end to company surveillance of workers and the reinstatement of dismissed workers. (Workers and their families rally in this video.)

Peru, miner's strike, Solidarity Center

Miners’ families rallied in support of the striking workers. Credit: Colectivo Resistencia Sur Tacna

The miners, members of the Sindicato Unificado de la Southern y Anexos (SUT SPCC), went on strike last week after negotiations broke down, halting operations at the Toquepala and Cuajone mines. The union’s general secretary, Jorge Campos, was arbitrarily dismissed in 2016, according to the miners, and his reinstatement is among their demands.

From the United States, the United Steelworkers condemned the company’s attempts to fire striking workers and the decision of the Peruvian Labor Ministry to declare the strike illegal. The ministry argued the issues are not subject to collective bargaining and the union has appealed the ruling.

IndustriALL Director Fernando Lopes also condemned the actions of the company, noting it is part of Grupo Mexico, “known for its violations of freedom of association in Mexico and the USA. Peruvian workers will not let the company do the same thing to them. We extend all our support to the union and the federation.”

Peru, miner's strike, Solidarity CenterAlso, IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches wrote to SPCC company president, Oscar González Rocha, to urge him to negotiate in good faith with the SUT SPCC.

The SUT SPCC is affiliated to the National Federation of Miners and Metalworkers of Peru (FNTMMSP), which is in turn affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.