Workers Uniting and TUC protest at anti-union attacks in Mexico
by Ben Davis Director of International Affairs, United Steelworkers of America and Canada
Workers Uniting, the UK TUC and a number of UK unions met the mexican Ambassador today (February 18th) to protest at the anti-union activities of the Mexican Government and Employers.
The Mexican Government’s intensifying campaign of repression against democratic unions is the focus of a global week of action February 18th -24th convened by the global trade union federation IndustriALL.
Despite the defeat of the right-wing PAN government in presidential elections last year, the concern of the labour movement has turned to alarm as the new president, Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party, supported a reform of labour laws that legalised outsourcing and temporary contracts, made it easier to fire workers, and created new obstacles to organizing the unorganized.
This was followed by a hammer blow from the Supreme Court, which ruled that 44,000 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union (SME), who were sacked overnight in 2009, had no case for reinstatement. The authorities routinely collaborate with employers to install corrupt company-dominated unions in workplaces, signing collective agreements that the workers have no say in and often do not even know exist.
These agreements, known as “protection contracts,” have been condemned by the International Labour Organisation.
Nor has the new government acted to end the repression of the Mexican Metal and Mineworkers’ Union, (Los Mineros) which has been under constant attack for the past seven years. Labour authorities continue to prosecute the union’s leader, Napoleón Gómez, on trumped-up charges despite seven appellate court rulings in his favour.
The bodies of 63 workers killed in an explosion at a coal mine owned by the Grupo Mexico company on 19th February 2006 have yet to be recovered.
At PKC, a Finnish autoparts supplier that produces for Ford, Volvo and other major car companies, workers organized with the Mineworkers in 2009. The employer responded by signing a secret contract with a corrupt labor organisation (the CTM) and launched a campaign of threats and intimidation in collusion with state authorities.
Despite this repression, the Mineworkers won 2,311 votes last October 18th, losing narrowly to the CTM, and immediately filed for a new election. But in December, PKC fired over 100 workers including the entire union leadership – who have now launched a global campaign to demand reinstatement and a fair vote.
You can support this campaign at LabourStart.
As part of the Mexico Days of Action, the UK TUC General Council met the Mexican Ambassador to protest the actions of the Mexican Government and a letter of protest from TUC general secretary France O'Grady was sent to the Mexican president.
Workers Uniting (the global union formed by Unite and the USW) also handed in a letter of protest from Leo Gerard and Len McCluskey.
On February 20th there will be a public meeting in the UK at Unite’s Offices at 126 Theobalds Road in London, as well as protest meetings across the USA and Canada.
The UK meeting is supported by Unite, Workers Uniting, TUC, Campaign For Trade Union Freedom and Latin America Conference 2013.