(Adds comment from Cerro Verde union leader, quote from
Federation leader, background)
By Teresa Cespedes and Marco Aquino
LIMA May 5 Peruvian miners voted on Friday to
approve a national strike in June to protest "anti-labor"
government proposals, Ricardo Juarez, secretary general of the
National Federation of Miners, Metallurgists and Steelworkers,
Members of the federation, an umbrella group for hundreds of
unions representing workers at some of the country's largest
mines, had met in the country's capital, Lima, to vote on the
measure. Peru is the world's second-largest producer of copper,
zinc and silver, and the sixth-largest producer of gold.
The strike is a protest "against the new labor rules that
reduce workers' rights that the government is trying to impose,"
The group - whose members work at mines owned by companies
including Barrick Gold Corp, BHP Billiton PLC
and Newmont Mining Corp - will meet again in the first
week of June to set a definitive date for the strike, Juarez
The national strike would be the first under President Pedro
Pablo Kuczynski, a former investment banker and free-markets
proponent who has sought to attract investment since taking
office last year. Representatives of Peru's Labor Ministry were
not immediately available for comment.
A nationwide strike two years ago had little impact on
production as companies had contingency plans in place.
Peru has boasted some of the highest growth rates in the
region in recent years, but its economy remains dependent on
mining, and conflicts between mining companies and organized
labor, as well as indigenous communities, are common.
Zenon Mujica, secretary general of the union representing
workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc's Cerro Verde copper
mine - Peru's largest - said members had decided to adhere to
the planned strike.
Earlier on Friday, Mujica had said Cerro Verde workers were
evaluating whether to strike after the union said the company
had threatened punishment for a previous work stoppage. The
workers' three-week strike in March hit output at the mine.
Last week, workers at Southern Copper Corp's Toquepala and
Cuajone mines and the Ilo refinery returned to work after a
two-week strike, which the company said reduced production by
just 1,418 tonnes. The two mines together produced 310,000
tonnes of copper last year, according to government data.
(Reporting by Teresa Cespedes and Marco Aquino; Writing by Luc
Cohen; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)