LIMA, March 12 (Reuters) - Contract workers at Peruvian miner Buenaventura's Uchucchacua silver mine started a strike on Tuesday and a union leader said the action, protesting the firing of 10 employees and pushing for better working conditions, has halted production.
Buenaventura said in a statement on Wednesday that workers are on strike but did not specify if it affected output of about 324,000 kilos of silver per year.
Company representatives said by telephone that they were in a meeting and unavailable to comment.
Marcos Hurtado, a union leader at Uchucchacua, said the strike seeks to reinstate 10 employees fired in February.
"We are asking for them to be put back to work because we think it was unfair," said Hurtado, adding that workers are also pressing for better food and working conditions.
The company, Peru's largest publicly traded miner, said the work stoppage is not related to annual negotiations with unions and that the government did not authorize the strike.
Hurtado said all 1,500 contract workers at the mine, out of around 2,000 workers in total, are abiding by the strike.
Workers at the mine also went on strike late last year over the dismissal of workers.
Peru is the world's third biggest silver exporter.