MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Latin America Update: Labour Conflicts Special Edition

Published by MAC on 2006-04-22


Latin America Update: labour conflicts special edition

22nd April 2006

Several labour conflicts involving mining companies have exploded this week in Latin America, and some of them have escalated dramatically: Union of Workers of Yanacocha, Latin America's biggest gold mine controlled by the Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp., struck briefly calling for improved health, education and housing benefits, and respect for human rights. Also in Perú, the Metallurgists’ Union of Doe Run demanded a share of profits: "We have learned that the company did manage to send a considerable sum of money to its headquarters in the United States. And to this we say !Basta! Enough! And we are going into the streets to demand our just rights," stated one press release. In a march headed by the Mayor of La Oroya, Clemente Quincho Panez, officials of Doe Run Perú were characterized as "Pinocchios" by the protesters. Workers of Cerro Vanguardia in the southern Argentina province of Santa Cruz decided to initiate a show to strength upon failing to obtain responses to a petition they presented the previous Monday. On its part, the government sent 21 troops of the gendarmeria to the gold mining operation, as well as provincial police, with the objective of ensuring that the workers did not block the access roads to the mining encampment.

In Mexico, hundreds of police stormed a major steel plant on Thursday to force out striking workers in a violent clash that spilled onto the streets and left at least two workers dead. The dispute followed a horrific mining accident in northern Mexico in February where 65 workers died in an underground gas explosion, sparking angry protests over mine safety and the failure of rescue teams to reach the bodies.

José Julio Perez, president of the community council of Tabaco, a village near the El Cerrejón Zona Norte mine in northern Colombia, went to Salem (Massachusetts) to fight for a new home for his family and fellow villagers displaced by a mine that supplies coal to Salem Harbor Station. It’s the fourth visit to Salem over the past few years by union activists and community leaders from Colombia hoping to form bonds with communities in the United States and Canada that use coal from the El Cerrejón. José Julio hopes to raise funds to hire scientists to do a study on the health and environmental impacts of the mine and to set up a regional center to monitor the mine's activity and aid the villagers.

In Bolivia, Evo Morales ordered a Brazilian company out of the country after it allegedly built a wood-burning pig-iron plant without proper permits and backed protests aimed at forcing the government to allow the company to stay, in which three ministers were kidnapped (Mining Minister Walter Villarroel among them). After the episode, the company decided not bid for the El Mutún iron ore deposit in Santa Cruz department.

Union of Workers of Yanacocha S.R.L Mining Company

Special Communication

15th April 2006

Indefinite General Strike For Workers Dignity

The Union of Workers, led by public opinion in general and especially by the catholic people of Cajamarca, salutes them and asks their understanding for the reasons that we are obligated to carry out a STRUGGLE IN DEFENSE OF OUR LABOR, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS.

The constant abuses at the Yanacocha Mines have reached their limit, and therefore during this HOLY WEEK when our lord JESUS CHRIST gave his life in search of justice, we workers of the company YANACOCHA MINES seek the same path, and we again ask the understanding of the catholic people of Cajamarca. We should all be together those for whom justice is the balance between the morality and law, and which has a value superior to that of Law.

OUR STRUGGLE IS JUST, AND WE URGE A SOLUTION TO THE FOLLOWING POINTS:

1. UNRESTRICTED RESPECT FOR LABOR UNION LIBERTY

2. WE URGE COMPLIANCE WITH THE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT

3. THE RESTRUCTURING OF THE SALARIAL RENUMERATION WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION

4. RETURN OF JOBS TO LAID-OFF WORKERS AND THE PAYMENT FOR SUFFERING AND DAMAGES

5. RESPECT TO MAXIMUM LABOR SHIFTS AND TO A FAIR AMOUNT OF BREAKS -- PUBLICATION OF THE WORK SHIFTS

6. CARRYING OUT OF THE SUPREME DECREE 014-92-EM; HOUSING, EDUCATION AND HEALTH (FREE MEDICAL CARE)

7. WE URGE THE RECOGNITION OF THE STABILITY OF THE WORKERS FRAUDULENTLY CONTRACTED

8. RIGHT TO PRODUCTIVITY BONUSES

9. RESPONSIBILITY IN SOLIDARITY TO THE CONTRACTED EMPLOYEES THROUGHOUT THE CHAIN OF PRODUCTION (OCDE)

10. IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF FOOD (CONCESSIONARIES)

11. RESPECT TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE COMMUNITIES AND SOCIETY WITH REGARDS TO THE ENVIRONMENT

12. PACIFICO HEALTH HAS BEEN INCOMPLIANT TO ITS OFFERS TO WORKERS

COMPAÑEROS:

THE STRIKE IS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT ESTABLISHED IN ARTICLE 28 OF OUR CONSTITUTION AND IN THE LAW OF COLLECTIVE RELATIONS OF WORK, AND THEREFORE WE ALL AS WORKERS HAVE THE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO COMPLY WITH THIS MEASURE. NOW OR NEVER!

PERÚ. CAJAMARCA, APRIL 14, 2006
Directive of the Leadership Board

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