— octubre 5, 2020 a las 1:24 pm

Julio Ortiz: Shougang has a sanction of 564,000 Peruvian Soles ($155,800 USD) for not complying with biosecurity against Covid-19

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The Chinese transnational company, Shougang Hierro Peru, has a sanction filed by the National Superintendence of Labor Inspection (SUNAFIL), for an amount of 564 thousand soles, for serious and very serious offenses for not complying with the Occupational Health and Safety regulations regarding the risk of Covid-19 exposure, Julio Ortiz, General Secretary of the Shougang Workers’ Union, told Gran Angular.

Despite the fact that the Chinese mine has obtained net profits of one billion sixty one million soles ($293,100,000 USD) in 2019, the conditions in which mining workers have been working in this context of COVID-19 are precarious. The company has installed, for example, improvised tents in open-air areas, where there is a lot of wind and large temperature drops in the nights and early mornings. But in order not to lose their jobs, they must remain in this situation for 30 to 50 days without leaving the mining unit, denounces Julio Ortiz.

Although the labor inspection body has sanctioned the company for serious and very serious offenses, for an amount of 564 thousand soles, there have been no corrective measures by the company.

Ortiz affirms that the Shougang mining company has a very strong economic capacity, which allows them to attend to and be concerned about the health of their workers; however, it is not. «We do not have the presence of a specialist doctor in the work area to diagnose and treat possible infected workers, nor are they taking rapid or molecular tests. We have had to ask Essalud to do the rapid tests for us, who have taken the tests from a thousand people, when the mining company could have done it”, says the union leader.

This situation has led workers to report non-compliance with biosafety protocols to the corresponding authorities, such as Sunafil (Ministry of Labor), the National Center for Occupational Health and Environmental Protection for Health (CENSOPAS) and to the Commission of Energy and Mines of the Congress of the Republic, where the Deputy Secretary of the Workers’ Union, Jorge Mejía, explained the conditions in which mining workers have been working. In retaliation, the company decided to arbitrarily dismiss him in the midst of the pandemic. The case is currently in court.

“There has been harassment and persecution of the workers who complain. Mejía has been fired for condemning the breach of the sanitary protocol before the Energy and Mines Commission of Congress. The company has even sent a notarized letter to the congresswoman Julia Aiquipa, who attended our case, to rectify the complaints she made», he said.

Another issue that the workers denounce is that they were affected by Perfect Suspension of Work. Ortiz mentions that a total of 597 workers were under perfect suspension in June, who did not receive their respective wages. “The workers came to Lima to initiate an administrative labor dispute before the Ministry of Labor. We expect an impartial action by the authorities to solve this problem that began with the application of the Perfect Suspension decree by the mining company”.

On the other hand, the general secretary mentions that union representatives are also in the midst of a collective bargaining with the company to prevent further violations of rights in the context of the health crisis. «It has been eighteen years in which we have had to resort to strikes to solve our list of claims», ​​he says.

Ortiz also denounced the death of the mining worker, Juan Tovar, who died within the mining unit and demanded that the circumstances of how and why he died be investigated.

Finally, he regretted the situation in which Marcona finds itself for not having a hospital that treats patients infected with COVID-19, “We do not have an isolation place for suspects of Covid-19; we have to go to Ica or Lima to receive care. Due to hospital saturation, mining workers and families from Marcona have died”.

*Translated by: Skip Lahti

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