Just last month on June 6 a copper mine and coal mine in Mexico were raided by federal Mexican police officers in efforts to put an end to the three year strike that the union members created due to improper health and safety standards. According to the ITUC, 400 federal police officers attacked the Cananea copper mining plant located in Sonora with tear gas and forcibly removed picketing workers who have been striking for three years for justice. The National Union for Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (also known as Los Mineros) reports that three people were injured during this raid. Later that same day Coahuila’s armed forces took control over the Pasta de Conchos coal mine owned by Group Mexico, where 63 miners had lost their lives in February 2006 during an explosion. Military action is just one of the 10 ways ILRF identifies as strategies to bust unions.
According to USLEAP “Federal police arrested five Mineros and issued federal warrants for the union leaders, General Secretary of Mineros Section 65, Sergio Tolano Lizárraga, Juan Gutiérrez Ballesteros, Sonora delegate of the National Executive Committee, and Jacinto Martínez, a member of the local executive committee.”
Mexico’s right to strike was removed when the Mexican Supreme Court permitted Group Mexico to fire striking workers in Section 65 on February 11, 2010. “Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon, has launched a reign of terror against working people,” said Leo W. Gerard, United Steelworkers (USW) international president. Legislation that eliminates organizing rights opens the gates for violent police raids like those in the Cananea and Pasta de Conchos mines.
Mexico has ratified the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98 which legally binds Mexican law to establish freedom of association and the protection of the right to organize as well as the right to bargain collectively. However Mexico has repeatedly violated these conventions of labor standards with federal police raids in the mines. The joint commission between the USW and Los Mineros is another step forward to expose Mexico’s noncompliance in the international labor movement.
For more information about how unions protect the right to freedom of association, take a look at the ILRF’s Freedom @ Work Toolkit.