(above) A person walks next to a closed McDonald's restaurant, one of all 29 locations that were closed following the deaths of two teenaged employees, in Lima, Peru December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Peru president vows tougher sanctions for labor accidents after McDonald's deaths

by Marco Aquino

Lima (Reuters) - Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra said he will seek to strengthen labor laws to take more “concrete action” against companies involved in workplace accidents after two teenaged employees died in a McDonald’s Corp franchise at the weekend.

Vizcarra said in comments reported on local television that current fines for such accidents appeared to be “insufficient.”

“We can’t allow for these kind of accidents to happen and for there to be no comeback other than a fine,” he said. “If the law is insufficient for these cases, we have to correct it.”

All 29 McDonald’s restaurants in Peru are closed while the fast-food chain’s local operator, Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc, completes inspections following the deaths on Sunday of Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Campo, 19.

Police said they were electrocuted in Pueblo Libre, a district of the capital, while cleaning the kitchen.

The incident spurred local protests against McDonald’s and claims on social media, by people who said they had worked for the chain, of unsafe working conditions, low wages and unpaid work.

Arcos Dorados said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened” by the employees’ deaths and was fully cooperating with local authorities.

The company added in an email that it paid “competitive” salaries, took seriously concerns raised about working conditions and that workers’ shifts never exceed eight hours and included an additional break time of one hour.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Richard Chang