December 26, 2019 / 6:52 PM / 21 days ago

Peru watchdog says McDonald's franchisee Arcos Dorados violated safety laws

FILE PHOTO: 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

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Peru´s labor watchdog has found McDonald’s Corp´s Latin America franchisee Arcos Dorados guilty of six “very serious” violations of local safety and health laws following the deaths of two employees in a restaurant kitchen.

The Labor Ministry’s regulating body (Sunafil) proposed that the company be fined $254,000 over the deaths.

Arcos Dorados, which operates all 29 McDonald’s restaurants in Peru, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Campo, 19 were electrocuted earlier this month in Lima, while cleaning the kitchen. Protesters have taken to the streets carrying posters bearing the victims’ photos and slogans reading: “Justice for Alexa and Gabriel.”

They were a couple who had been working for the fast-food chain for several months, according to their families.

The government has improved business health and safety regulations in response to the case, Labor Minister Sylvia Caceres told a news conference Thursday. The current system of one inspection of companies per year is being replaced by as many spot inspections as necessary, she said.

“We have to discourage companies that violate labor standards,” Caceres said, adding that further measures were under consideration.

Arcos Dorados, which operates McDonald’s restaurants throughout South America and the Caribbean, said last week that McDonald’s stores in Peru would remain closed until it finished its own investigation into what happened.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler

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