Miners at Southern Copper Corporation in Peru are on indefinite strike in support of demands for a bigger share of profits, improvements in medical services, an end to company spying on workers and the reinstatement of dismissed workers.
The miners’ union, the Sindicato Unificado de la Southern y Anexos (SUT SPCC), affiliated to the National Federation of Miners and Metalworkers of Peru (FNTMMSP), which is in turn affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, went on strike on 10 April after negotiations with the copper company broke down. The strike halted operations at the Toquepala and Cuajone mines and the Ilo foundry in southern Peru.
A few weeks ago, the union presented the following demands to the company, which is a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico:
- Improvements in medical services
- An end to the use of cameras and sensors to spy on workers
- An increase in workers’ share of profits
- Reinstatement of the union’s general secretary, Jorge Campos, arbitrarily dismissed in 2016.
After several meetings, company management showed no inclination to meet the workers’ demands. Two thousand miners therefore voted to go on strike.
In addition to stopping work, the miners have held mass rallies in Ciudad Nueva, outside the Cuajone (Moquegua) mine and at the Toquepala (Tacna) extraction unit.
Both sides say they are open to dialogue and want to reach a solution. In the last hours of 10 April, union representatives met Southern Copper managers but the talks failed. They scheduled another meeting for 12 April in the presence of the labour authorities.
The company produced 900,000 tonnes of copper in 2016, 21.1% more than in 2015. However, the union says that workers received between 13,000 and 16,000 soles (about $4,000) as their profit-sharing payment after receiving 40,000 soles (about $12,300) the year before as their share of company profits for 2015.
The FNTMMSP expressed its total support for the SUT SPCC’s demands and called on the company to reach agreement with the union. Meanwhile, IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, has written to the company president, Oscar González Rocha, to urge him to negotiate in good faith with the SUT SPCC.
IndustriALL director Fernando Lopes, said:
“Southern Peru 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”.