But not before they pretty much shut down the region (see article below).
The La Oroya smelter complex, which is owned by Doe Run Company, produces concentrates of lead, zinc, copper, gold and silver.
Workers downed their tools on Monday because they were dissatisfied with how the company redistributed a share of profits to employees -- something mining firms must do under Peruvian law.
The plant has other problems than how it deals with its workers.
Last month public health and environmental organizations from throughout the Western Hemisphere announced the filing of a petition with the human rights division of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. accusing the Peruvian government of doing little to halt contamination from the metallurgical complex that is impacting the lives and health of the citizens of La Oroya, Peru.
Living in Peru reports the petition claims the Peruvian government failed to place pollution controls on the metallurgical complex that operates in La Oroya, a situation that tramples on the human rights of the town's citizens. Located in the city of La Oroya, some 175 kms from Lima, the complex has been operating for 80 years. Doe Run Peru, a subsidiary of Doe Run Company of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, owns the complex.
Recent monitoring of air quality -- performed by Doe Run itself -- has shown that daily average sulfur dioxide levels are between 80 and 300 times the maximum level permitted by the World Health Organization. The Blacksmith Institute even declared the city of La Oroya one of the Top Ten Most Polluted Cities in the world.
The petition asks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to recommend that the Peruvian government implement urgent measures to halt the grave violations against the health and lives of the citizens of La Oroya.
The following comes from Living in Peru.
Andean town shuts down against Doe Run Peru
(LIP-jl) -- According to Andina News Agency, all transport, commercial, and academic activities in the Andean city of La Oroya, Peru have shut down in support of protests against Doe Run Peru (owned by Doe Run in St. Luis, U.S.).
Regional President Vladimiro Huaroc Portocarrero informed that various social organizations from Yauli Province (located in the department of Junin) have decided to show their solidarity for striking employees who are demanding bonus-pay raises.
"The shut down started on Tuesday at midnight and the entire province is completely paralyzed - absolutely zero transportation or commerce. Every establishment is closed," affirmed the regional president.
According to Huaroc, a confrontation between protesters and police occurred at 3 a.m this morning. 15 strikers were arrested and some minor injuries were reported.
In the aftermath, Doe Run Peru officials held an emergency meeting with union representatives but, according to Huaroc, no agreement was reached.
"The history of distrust between Doe Run Peru and its employees resurfaced yesterday as charges of employee mistreatment and humiliation were made by some workers," declared Huaroc.
The regional leader insisted that both parties need to hold discussions during the next hours to avoid further problems.
"Doe Run Peru is in unfavorable position due to its history of unfulfilled environmental agreements," indicated Hauroc.
According to union officials, Doe Run Peru's 2006 profits reached US$120 million, while the company claimed just US$85 million, severely cutting employee bonuses that are mandated by Peruvian law.