Peru: national solidarity strike halts mines

Peru’s National Federation of Miners, Metalworkers and Steelworkers called a nation-wide strike for July 10 and 11, in solidarity with more than 1,500 workers at the Casapalca mine who walked out in May. The conflict has claimed five lives so far. On July 13, the company owners agreed to sit down and talk with the workers and the authorities for the first time.

“We hope that our grievances will finally be redressed,” the secretary general of the Casapalca Workers’ Union, Rafael Cabezas, told IPS. Cabezas said the major obstacle in the negotiations was the issue of the reinstatement of 106 workers who were fired nearly two months ago for establishing a trade union.

More than 1,500 workers from 12 contracting companies that provide services to the Casapalca mine formed a union on May 17 to press their demands for improved working conditions. The union’s general secretary was fired the same day, and 105 workers, including some 20 union leaders, were sacked a few days later. Since then, the workers have been on strike, occupying the area surrounding the Casapalca mine, in Huarochirí province.

Of the 1,900 who work at Casapalca, 1,700 are employed by outside contractors. Only 200 workers, most of whom are administrative staff, appear on the mine’s employee roster, according to Peru’s Labor Ministry. (IPS, July 9)

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