Finns Behaving Badly, Down Mexico Way

Unite Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke reports on further evidence that European companies behave badly when they’re operating outside the EU, especially in Mexico.

The Finnish multi-national auto parts company PKC are the epitome of a company who can be rightly accused of bad corporate behaviour. As a Finnish company they have to behave properly towards workers in their homeland. But when they get a chance they embark on union-busting and treating workers with no respect, break ILO Conventions and show a lack of decency.

A report of an independent investigation into PKC’s activities in Mexico has found widespread violations of workers’ rights, including sacking workers who tried to form an independent union, and sexual harassment.

The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labour monitoring group supported by universities in the USA, has released its detailed investigation of violations committed by PKC at its plant in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

PKC’s clients include such automotive giants as Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen and Volvo. The report prompted United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard to say:

“The WRC report shows how multinational companies use Mexico’s weak labour laws to undermine workers’ human rights. PKC must immediately reinstate the fired union leaders and follow the report’s other recommendations. The Mexican government must demonstrate that it can protect the rights of its workers before it is allowed greater access to US markets.”

The report found that PKC…

  • imposed a “yellow” company union on workers without the knowledge of its workers;
  • harassed and threatened workers who attempted to join the independent Mexican Mine and Metalworkers’ union (Los Mineros);
  • manipulated an election to defeat the Los Mineros; and
  • fired independent union supporters.

The WRC also documented sexual harassment at PKC facilities.

The United Steelworkers (Unite’s partner in the global union Workers Uniting) has supported the Minero’s campaign to build democratic worker organisations in Mexico and has a Solidarity Alliance with the independent union.

Join the Conversation