Court rules that Cananea can dismiss miners

17.04.2009

The Mexican miners' union (SNTMMSRM) has applied for an injunction against the ruling and announced that the workers are ready to stop anyone taking possession of the mine.

Mexico: The Cananea mining company, owned by Grupo Mexico, has announced it will terminate employment contracts with its workers after a ruling made by the Labour Department's Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court (JFCA).

One thousand and two hundred workers at the Cananea mine have been on strike for 21 months in support of improved health and safety conditions and in support of their union leader, Napoleón Gómez.

In March, the company announced it would have to close the mine and dismiss all the workers because of damage caused to machinery during the prolonged strike and applied to the JFCA for a ruling.

On 14 April, the authorities declared the strike was legal. However, on the same day, a few hours later, the JFCA granted the company's request to dismiss the workers.

The court's decision means that the company can now end its employment contract with the workers and make a new agreement with other unions.

Sergio Beltrán Reyes, Secretary of the National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union of Mexico (SNTMMSRM) Executive Committee, described the ruling as "an aberration considering that the court decided in favour of the company just a few hours after the strike was declared legal. This cannot be allowed to happen. How can they ignore the right to strike? They should sit down and negotiate an end to the strike and then see whether conditions at the mine make it viable and possible to operate or not".

He added that this is one more injustice against the union and explained that the union had applied for an injunction against the court ruling. However, he said, the union was prepared for any attempt by the company to evict the workers.

The miners are acting as a human shield to stop either the company or the government taking possession of the mine.

"We are going to defend the mine, because it is a source of employment for Mexican workers and we will not let the authorities take our work from us. We are ready to face the federal and police forces and we hope we do not suffer any provocation that might lead to more martyrs in this fight", said the union leader.