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3,500 Mexican workers strike against Arcelor Mittal

10 March, 2016IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Mexican Miners’ and Metalworkers’ Union also known as ‘Los Mineros’, has launched a strike against Arcelor Mittal at its steel plant in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán in western Mexico. 

IndustriALL extends its total support to some 3,500 workers who began the strike on 4 March in response to dismissals and violations of their collective agreement by the company.

The workers scheduled the strike to begin at midday on 4 March. However, one hour before midday, the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA) informed them it had ruled the strike to be inadmissible. This opened up the possibility that the JFCA might declare the strike to be null and void.

Jorge Almeida, IndustriALL Regional Secretary, wrote to the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, on the same day to ask him to intervene immediately to ensure respect for the workers’ right to strike and to strongly condemn violations of the collective agreement by Arcelor Mittal México Hierro.

“The ILO says the right to strike is one of the fundamental legitimate means open to workers and their organizations to promote and defend their economic and social interests,” said Almeida.

The workers organized a march along the city’s main street to the offices of Arcelor Mittal to denounce more than 300 unfair dismissals since 2015 and violations of the collective agreement. They are still picketing the company’s offices.

The Labour and Social Welfare Department through the JFCA, described the protest as “the occupation of Arcelor Mittal premises by the workers” and urged the Los Mineros to prioritize dialogue. In an official statement, the company described the protest as “an illegal blockade” and said it was open to talks with the union and in direct contact with the authorities about resuming operations.

The union released a statement in which it said it had attempted conciliation several times but it had decided to strike as the company had not responded in a satisfactory manner:

“The strike is not the dispute, it is a procedure to seek a solution to the dispute. Otherwise, workers would have no way of defending themselves against the company’s failure to comply with the official collective agreement,” it explained.

The union wrote to the government asking it to ensure respect for the national and universal right to strike, reject reprisals against the striking workers and facilitate conciliation and dialogue in order to find a solution to the dispute. It is still awaiting a reply.