July 1, 2008

Peruvian Miners Strike for More Profit Sharing

Peruvian miners strike for more profit sharing

LIMA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Some 85,000 mining workers in Peru started an nationwide strike with an indefinite term Monday, pressing Congress to pass a bill that would improve their benefits.

The Federation of Peruvian Mining Workers, Peru's largest mining union, wants Congress to approve a law to eliminate caps on employee profit sharing so they can benefit more from the record high metals prices.

The government of Peruvian President Alan Garcia has expressed support for the bill, but congressional leaders have not been able to reach a consensus.

The workers will not step back until their demands are met, Federation secretary general Luis Castillo said.

"Workers are not demanding new laws. We are requesting the restitution of the rights that have been taken away from us," Castillo said.

During the rule of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, the mining workers lost the right to 8 percent of the annual gross profit of the metal companies, Castillo said.

"We can't allow more abuses and confiscations," Castillo said.

Mineral exports from Peru, a leading global metals producer, have helped fuel a six-year economic boom, but mining workers say they are not getting a fair share of profits.

By rights, the central and the regional governments take 30 percent of the profits, while 62 percent goes to shareholders and businessmen, and the rest to the miners, Castillo said

"However, they have put a limit on our profits. We can't get the benefits of the economic bonanza though we are the ones who produce it," Castillo said.

Mining workers are also asking the government to change rules for early retirement and give workers the right to enroll in state-run pension funds.

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