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November 07, 2007

Rep. Grijalva: "This is progress?"

Check out this Dear Colleague letter from the office of Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). The House has yet to begin debate on the FTA, so it looks like we could be here into the night.

Peruvian Gov’t Represses Strike on Day of FTA Vote:
This is progress?

Dear Colleague:

I wish to forward for your consideration before today's vote on the "Free Trade" Agreement with Peru the following disturbing article.

On the very day this House will vote on the Peru FTA, the Peruvian government is moving to repress a strike by miners who are fighting for, among other things, the simple right to an eight-hour work day.

If the Peruvian government feels confident in repressing labor the day of this vote, when the issues are so very clear and basic, I shudder to think what kind of future Peruvian government action we will enable if this FTA passes the House.

I urge you to take these developments into consideration and OPPOSE the Peru FTA.

Sincerely,

s/
Raúl M. Grijalva
Member of Congress

(read the attached article after the jump)

Peru to Declare Mines Strike Illegal, Pinilla Says (Update1)

By Alex Emery

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Peru's government will declare a two- day national mining strike illegal today, forcing miners to return to work or lose their jobs, Labor Minister Susana Pinilla said.

The strike, which seeks to pressure companies to improve pensions, profit-sharing and rights for subcontracted workers, is "politically motivated,'' Pinilla told Lima-based CPN Radio.

"Union leaders have a different stance that has nothing to do with worker vindication,'' Pinilla said. "They have led workers into an illegal strike where they could lose their jobs.''

Strikes this year, including a five-day national walkout by Peruvian miners in May, have cut copper output in Peru, Chile and Mexico, helping to spur a 17 percent rally in the price of the metal. Peru is the world's third- largest producer of copper, zinc and tin, the biggest of silver and fifth-largest of gold.

The stoppage in Peru has affected mines owned by companies including Southern Copper Corp., Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Newmont Mining Corp. and Doe Run Resources Corp.

Workers also are on strike at mines run by Cia. De Minas Buenaventura SA, tin miner Minsur SA, Shougang Hierroperu's iron mine and zinc producers Cia. Minera Raura SA and Cia. Minera Santa Luisa, according to Mining Federation spokesman Cirilo Yarihuaman.

Talks Planned

Southern Copper's Peruvian mines, where 20 percent of workers went on strike, don't expect production losses, parent Grupo Mexico said in a filing to the Mexican Stock Exchange.

National metals output hasn't been cut and only 6,300 workers, or 5.3 percent of Peru's miners, are on strike, Pinilla said. The Mining Federation put the number at 45,000.

Union leaders planned to hold talks with Cabinet chief Jorge del Castillo and the president of Congress, Luis Gonzales Posada, to pass laws granting miners a 10 percent share of profits, up from the current 8 percent, and eight-hour shifts instead of the 12 hours imposed at many mines, Yarihuaman said.

The federation, which represents 70 unions and 28,000 miners, also wants 85,000 subcontracted workers put on company payrolls.

Copper futures for December delivery rose 3.95 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.3415 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Zinc rose $95, or 3.5 percent, to $2,820 a metric ton in London trading, and tin rose $345, or 2.1 percent, to $17,095 a ton.

Silver for December delivery rose 59.5 cents, or 4 percent, to $15.38 an ounce. Gold for December delivery rose $12.60, or 1.6 percent, to $823.40 an ounce.

"The strike in Latin America is quite supportive to prices,'' Dan Smith, an analyst at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said today by phone.

To contact the reporter on the story: Alex Emery in Lima at [email protected]
Last Updated: November 6, 2007 18:38 EST

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