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Peru: mining strike met with violence and arrests

18 September, 2019Mine workers in Peru have suspended a week long national strike after clashes with the police and the arrest of union members.

IndustriALL affiliate the Federation of Mining and Metallurgical Workers of Peru (FNTMMSP) went on strike on 10 September demanding the right to collective bargaining at sector level, after having spent six months trying to engage the employer in a dialogue.

The strike, which stopped work in several workplaces, was met with violence from police forces. 17 people, including the union’s general secretary Jorge Juárez, other union leaders, women from the wives’ committee and the union journalist, were detained for 48 hours after leaving a meeting at the Ministry of Labour in the capital, Lima.

Mine workers, who had come from the different mining areas of Peru, were faced with police violence as they gathered in Lima, resulting in four workers hospitalized with serious injuries.

Peru is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of precious metals, with mining bringing significant income to the country as well as companies. Many of the world's leading mining companies have operations in Peru, including Anglo American, BHP, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Grupo México, Newmont, Barrick Gold, Freeport-McMoRan, China MinMetals, and Shougang Group.

Although one of the main sources of labour, mining also contributes to social and environmental conflicts in Peru. Around 130,000 people work in precarious conditions, 70 per cent are outsourced, and an average of 30 workers die every year in work-related accidents.

Carried out in areas where farmers and indigenous populations live, mining endangers their livelihoods, but there is no legitimate prior consultation process to obtain consent of these communities.

Marino Vani, IndustriALL Latin America regional secretary, says:

IndustriALL stands in solidarity with the miners and their leaders, fighting for a more just and sustainable mining industry. We regret the lack of dialogue and the attacks on the mine workers, and instead call for a genuine dialogue aiming to establish functioning collective bargaining.”