Peru miners to vote on strike at the end of January over job cuts

Peru miners affiliated to the country’s National Federation of Mine Workers will vote Jan. 30 and 31 on whether to launch an indefinite nationwide strike over their claim that mining companies are using the global financial crisis as an “excuse” to massively and “arbitrarily” fire workers, reported daily Expresso Monday.

“Recent mining conflicts are only a warning of what is to come,” said Luis Castillo, secretary general of Peru’s National Federation of Mine Workers, FNTMMSP. “We can’t take any more of the government’s false promises.”

Castillo mentioned Brazil-based and North Carolina-managed Gerdau S.A., Ira Rennart’s Renco Group, as well as Peruvian−owned Volcan, as having fired approximately 6,000 workers in recent months.

“On Jan. 30 and 31 we will set an exact date for our strike, which has already been programmed for February,” said Castillo. “We can’t allow any more people to be arbitrarily fired. On Monday, 92 more miners were fired, and 6,000 are already on the streets… we can’t allow any more abuse.”

Castillo said mining companies were just using the global financial crisis as an excuse. “After four years of profit−making, they can’t be going through a crisis.”

Despite its considerable economic success this year and the fact that Peru is weathering the global crisis better than most other Latin American countries, it is nevertheless feeling the effects of the global credit crunch and falling commodity prices.

In October, plummeting prices for copper caused Peru’s exports to fall for the first time since 2002, down 11.4 percent compared to the same month last year. All mining companies have put expansion and development plans on hold, and many are partially suspending activities, or shutting down some of their mines altogether.

Peru is the world’s largest producer of silver, the third largest of copper, zinc and tin, and fifth largest producer of gold. Approximately 60 percent of the country’s export revenue is generated by mining.

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