Pan American Silver, through a Joint Venture agreement with the Bolivian government currently operates the San Vicente mine in Bolivia. The company's ownership of the operating subsidiary has changed over the years. They initially invested in 1999 and took majority ownership in 2007 (95%). This coincided with expansion of the mine from small-scale to industrial scale operations, which began at the end of 2008.
In September 2012, a portion of the mine was taken over by members of the rural peasant community and small-scale miners who were demanding work . They criticized the company for having reduced the workforce to a minimum and not benefiting impoverished.
Since then, there have been repeated labour-related incidents at the mine with significant economic consequences for the San Vicente operations.
Union discontent has wavered depending on how successful the company has been with managing the leadership. In 2014, the union ceased operations and declared a general strike when it became clear that the company was intervening in and unjustly prosecuting union leaders and rank and file workers . The union then sent a commission of 100 miners to the capital city of La Paz to demand the manager quit for "political persecution of union leaders", "trying to divide the leadership", and for dismissing workers for being involved in a hunger-strike. The strike lasted 14 days and the conflict was mediated by the national mining company COMIBOL .
Union struggles erupted again in January 2017 when the union claimed that six miners were "unjustly fired". The company argued the miners were fired for consuming alcoholic beverages, but the union denied these allegations, arguing that the company was laying off workers due to low silver prices. (4)
Later, in September 2017, the union declared a "state of emergency"  in response to company downsizing which resulted in a dearth of safety equipment and a worsening of working conditions. The union demanded that a representative of the company travel to Bolivia to hear their demands.
As the mine’s operations come to an end, future conflicts between the union and the company could arise again . (See less)