This represents a significant acceleration in the ongoing dispute at the plant which is already closed due to lack of funds. What’s happening is, in a nutshell, the workers fed up with the patsy patsy game of negotiation going on between owners Renco (owned by Ira Rennert) the Peruvian government and clients of the smelter (i.e. regional metals miners) and demanding action. They don’t want to be laid off for the next 90 days as is the current plan. They want their jobs back.
This isn’t a case of protestors stopping industry; au contraire, it’s a case of a workers’ movement sick to death with the intransigence of the suited brigade and getting busy to force them into a deal. But it also means that the strike could get nasty, as if the protestors get militant and start blocking the main central highway that runs through La Oroya (well, just next to it in fact) there are (according to reports) already anti-riot police on hand to make sure this vital link road is kept open.