Bolivian miners protest firings by Swiss company as metal prices slump
December 27, 2008 - Chicago Hearld (Associated Press)

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian miners are threatening to take over several mines to protest their firing.

Union leader Roberto Chavez says mining companies made huge profits as metal prices soared, and shouldn't punish workers as prices now sink.

Chavez says 700 miners at Sinchi Wayra, a subsidiary of Swiss miner Glencore International, may occupy and work its mines in cooperation with Bolivia's government.

Chavez says Sinchi Wayra warned of firings and wage cuts next year.

Sinchi Wayra officials did not respond to calls.

Some 57,000 Bolivians worked in mining last year, 84 percent in small cooperatives.

In 2007, $1.4 billion, or 31 percent, of exports were minerals, Bolivia's second biggest product after natural gas.