Peru Miners to Hold Strike Vote Jan. 31 Over Job Cuts

By Alex Emery

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Peruvian miners will vote Jan. 31 on whether to strike over job cuts and delays to legislation on pensions and profit-sharing, a union official said.

Peruvian miners are protesting the firing of 5,500 workers at units run by Gerdau SA, Renco Group Inc. and Volcan Cia. Minera SAA, Luis Castillo, general secretary of the Mining Federation, said today by telephone. Congress has also delayed a bill to improve pensions and profit-sharing, he said.

“A whole range of unsolved issues is coming together,” said Castillo, whose group represents about 28,000 mine workers and 70 unions. A strike may be called for the first week of February, he said. “The mining companies are using the drop in metals prices as an excuse to fire workers.”

Mining companies including Glencore International AG, Volcan Cia. Minera and Pan American Silver Corp. are shutting mines in Peru and shedding jobs in the face of slumping metals prices. Copper, zinc, lead and silver have all fallen at least 30 percent since July as the global crisis eroded demand.

Peru is the world’s largest producer of silver, the third- largest miner of copper, zinc and tin and No. 5 for gold. The Andean country’s miners staged two national strikes last year to push for a greater share of mining companies’ earnings.

National strikes, plus separate stoppages at copper mines operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and Southern Copper Corp., helped spur a copper price rally in the first quarter of 2008.


“The strike won’t have a major impact on production as past stoppages have been short-lived,” Rodrigo Zuazo, a mining analyst at Lima-based brokerage SAB Centura, said in a telephone interview. “A large number of companies are cutting costs, but production volumes probably won’t vary much.”

Copper futures for March delivery rose 5.85 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $1.547 a pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex division. Zinc for delivery in three months increased $58, or 4.6 percent, to $1,309 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and lead climbed $9, or 0.8 percent, to $1,179 per ton.

To contact the reporter on the story: Alex Emery in Lima at