LIMA – Miners and metalworkers in the La Oroya district, some 185 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Lima, ended their blockade of a major highway after the Peruvian government agreed to seek a way to keep the area’s largest employer afloat.
Workers who had been blocking the Central Highway since Monday began clearing the road after being informed of the accords their representatives reached in Lima with Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz.
The mayor of the city of La Oroya, Carlos Arredondo, told RPP Noticias radio that residents decided to suspend the general strike for eight days based on the assurances offered by Ortiz and President Ollanta Humala.
In Lima, workers’ leaders and ministerial officials agreed on the creation of a high-level technical committee that will seek to resolve the situation of Doe Run Peru, operator of a vast refining and smelting complex in La Oroya and the Cobriza mine in the neighboring region of Huancavelica.
The general strike was spurred by a failure of an auction of the assets of Doe Run, a unit of the U.S.-based Renco Group.
One person was killed and 63 others injured Tuesday when protesters clashed with police who tried to reopen the Central Highway in La Oroya.
The government is pursuing solutions for the workers in La Oroya, where jobs at the refinery complex have been handed down from one generation to another, Humala said Wednesday.
At the same time, he said authorities could not allow the protesters to interfere with “the constitutional right to free transit” and that the environmental issues which brought Doe Run into conflict with the government five years ago would have to be addressed.
Doe Run’s complex in La Oroya was initially shuttered in 2009 due to the company’s financial woes and its failure to comply with environmental clean-up requirements.
In April 2012, Doe Run Peru was declared by its creditors in a process of “operational liquidation,” which meant that while they would not approve the company’s restructuring plan, they would allow the company to continue production pending a final resolution.