“This signals a blatant attack on the union and, in turn, the workers’ collective bargaining rights" — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (23 Oct. 2020) — Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), has written to Canadian mining company Orvana Minerals condemning the situation at a Bolivian mine operated by its subsidiary and urging the company to respond.
On February 29, 2020, 130 workers at the mine, known as the Don Mario Complex, were suddenly and unlawfully dismissed from their jobs. With the loss of their jobs, these workers also lost their health care benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A blatant attack on the union, workers’ rights
This comes after years of negotiations between the company and the Union of Mining and Metallurgical Workers Paititi (STMMP), which represents the workers. In an agreement reached in October 2019, the company promised labour stability and work opportunities for the membership in the long run.
But then, the company undertook a “workforce restructuring program” that culminated in the firing of these 130 workers.
“This signals a blatant attack on the union and, in turn, the workers’ collective bargaining rights,” Brown wrote to Orvana Minerals Chairman Gordon Pridham.
Canadian organizations cannot stay silent
“NUPGE stands in solidarity with these workers and with STMMP,” wrote Brown. “We echo their demands for justice.”
STMMP and its members have filed legal complaints against the company, demanded their reinstatement, and requested to meet with the company leadership in Canada.
NUPGE joined with unions and civil society organizations from across Canada in sending a joint letter to Orvana Minerals. The organizations called on the company “to immediately commence dialogue in good faith with the Paititi union, in order to repair the harms that have been committed against the workforce at the Don Mario operations, and to afford them the rights guaranteed to them by Bolivian law and by the collective agreement that your company ratified in October 2019.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE