On Saturday, 25 August, another accident left the workers at Toquepala, Peru, in mourning for a dead colleague. A worker employed in the workshops at the plant, which is owned by Southern Peru - Grupo Mexico, died after a metal sheet fell on him.
There have now been four fatal accidents at Toquepala in just over two years. A contract worker was crushed by a train, a miner was buried by a rock fall, a company employee died from a fall during the construction of a road and now Mario Méndez has been killed in the Toquepala concentrator, said the Toquepala workers’ union.
The union says the company is responsible for safety and that, some time ago, the three Toquepala trade unions suggested to Southern Peru’s Chief Executive Officer that union and management representatives should meet to discuss safety issues. These meetings were to be held every three months but only one was held.
The union is calling on the company to resume safety meetings and demanding that it appoints a new maintenance and safety coordinator to replace the previous post holder, who was dismissed in the middle of negotiations with the union over their collective agreement. It also wants the immediate dismissal of the safety manager and the maintenance superintendent at the concentrator.
The union rejects the safety manager’s attempts to blame a supervisor for the accident. The unions says that the dead worker and the supervisor were both employed in the workshops and not in the area where the accident occurred. “There were not enough mechanics available so management brought in workers from other departments to work as ‘support staff’ in violation of our collective agreement. The company cannot therefore blame the foreman”, said the union.
IndustriALL Global Union regrets the death of another worker at Toquepala, a tragedy that again highlights the negligent attitude that some companies have towards the safety of their workers.