A large protest was held by workers from the Quellaveco mine of the Anglo American and Cumbra mining companies in the Moquegua region of Peru this Tuesday. The workers stopped all mining activities to demand that Anglo American assume the expenses and responsibilities for personnel who are infected with COVID-19.
Workers shared with local media that there has been a massive increase in the number of infected in recent weeks. They also detailed that infected workers, especially from Cumbra, were forced to return to their homes to quarantine rather than being allowed to quarantine in hotels. As they explained, moving to their homes would cause workers to infect their families, especially their children, who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We want everyone to be isolated in hotels so that they can take a PCR test,” one worker explained, “This way, they can clean the camp so that we can go to work a little more protected.”
Videos showed workers walking and protesting in the Quellaveco mine camp. “Our health comes before their money,” they chanted. So far, Anglo American has not issued any official statement.
A few days ago, workers from the Cumbra company pointed out that biosafety protocols were not being followed at the Salveani camp in the Quellaveco mine. Through a public complaint made to Radio Sol, a media outlet, they detailed that workers with Covid-19 were sharing a room with healthy workers. They also indicated that the cleaning process was delayed and bed linen was not changed.
Faced with a massive increase of Covid-19 cases caused by the anti-labor policies of the mining companies, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Health, and the National Superintendence of Labor Inspection (SUNAFIL), have maintained a deathly silence on this issue. With this, they do a huge favor to large employers who, once again, end up unloading the health crisis on the backs of the workers who now have to risk their health and their lives and that of their families.
We stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Quellaveco mine workers. Their lives and the lives of their families are worth more than the profits of the capitalists. We join in their demands that the government stop prioritizing profit over the lives of the working class and that the bosses pay for all expenses related to Covid-19.
Originally published in La Izquierda Diario.