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The first union for miners without permanent contracts ensures everyone knows their rights

It works - Peru

In 2018, mine worker Jesús Cardenas established FENTECAMP, the first union for miners in Peru with temporary contracts. CNV Internationaal has supported the leaders of this young union over the past few years with their coaching and leadership programme. This programme focuses on strengthening the union and developing a range of leadership styles.

After being encouraged by CNV Internationaal, FENTECAMP decided to join the national trade union, CATP. This has given a mining union high up in the Andes influence over the decision-making processes of the government far away in the capital city of Lima. Peru has never before had a union for independent mine workers. And there have been many conflicts with miners. Strikes used to be the only way miners could exert pressure. This union has led to the workers knowing more about their rights. And now, like union leader Jesús says, they can be much more effective in identifying  abuses during labour inspections.

“In all the years I’ve worked as a miner, I never had permanent work. A temporary agency had to extend my contract every few months. Year in and year out. The same thing. Until you asked for better food during long, hard days underground. Or better ear plugs or masks for the dust. Or worried that the tunnels weren’t supported well enough. Or when you decided to form a union with your colleagues so you could take a stronger stance. Then it’s all over. No more new contracts."

Miner's family Jorge and Mery and their children live high in the Andes


“I worry every single time he goes into the mine. I never know if he’ll come out alive.”  Mery (the wife of miner Jorge)

Aluminium, cobalt, graphite, gold, copper, silver, lithium, tin. Essential raw materials for many products. They come from mines high in the remote mountainous regions of the Peruvian Andes. 

Just as essential are the mine workers who risk their health and their lives to make sure these metals get to the Dutch companies in the metals sector. Mery, the wife of miner Jorge, is clear, “I worry every single time he goes into the mine. I never know if he’ll come out alive.” 

We missed out on a lot of opportunities in the past because we didn’t know any better. But now I do know and I work to make sure everyone knows their rights, “ says Jesús.

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Publication date 20 10 2022