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New cases of Covid-19 in Peru’s mines

13 May, 2020As operations in Peru’s mines continue despite a state of emergency, the National Miners’ and Metalworkers’ Union (FNTMMSP) says 252 miners have contracted the disease and one has died.

In March, Peru declared a public-health emergency until 24 May. Although mining was not initially considered an essential activity, the business sector pressured the government to allow mines to keep running.

The FNTMMSP says that since then, there has been 252 new cases of Covid-19.

The union wrote to the President and the energy and mining minister, calling for stricter workplace safety measures to protect the lives of employees.

FNTMMSP general secretary Jorge Juárez says that companies are failing to put Covid-19 protective measures in place and that there are no controls to ensure implementation.

He calls on the government to test miners, allocate staff to monitor workplace safety conditions, and ensure that workers at each company are included in workplace health and safety committees responsible for recommending, assessing and updating internal directives to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On 6 May, the government published a Covid-19 health and safety protocol. The union says that the protocol needs to effectively protect employees who continue to work and contract the disease as a result, and that those cases should be considered as occupational accidents or illnesses.

The union is demanding that the money belonging to workers in the FONDOEMPLEO employment fund be used to offset the negative impacts of the crisis on workers and to protect their health.

Mario Vani, IndustriALL Global Union regional secretary, says:

"Once again workers are forced to put their lives and their families at risk. It's mind-blowing that multinationals show such disregard for social dialogue in our region; they are only interested in making profits, even if that means more deaths and increased spread of infection among the population.

“We hope that the government and mining companies will engage in a dialogue with the unions to ensure that measures are put in place to protect workers' lives and dignity."