On 22 January, 350 thugs from the non-independent Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) surrounded the Local Conciliation and Arbitration Board building in Monclova, Mexico. The board was dealing with a request by the National Miners’ Union (SNTMMSRM) to schedule a vote on which union should have collective bargaining rights at Gunderson, Teksid and Pytco.
Inside the building were 50 members of the miners’ union, the union’s legal representatives, Italian observers from Teksid and CTM representatives.
Collective agreements cover 900 workers at Teksid, 1800 at Gunderson and 150 at Pytco. The workers at these companies have expressed their wish to join the National Miners’ Union and are contesting the CTM’s right to represent them.
In search of a democratic union
Workers at Teksid Hierro, which is part of the Fiat Chrysler Group, have been fighting for their rights since the start of 2014. On 18 April, the company dismissed three workers and between 80 and 100 thugs attacked another 11 workers who had decided to join a democratic union instead of the CTM, which they say has failed to defend workers’ interests.
Workers’ right to democratically elect their representatives for collective bargaining purposes is a basic right that is protected by International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 87. On 22 April 2014, Teksid Hierro therefore agreed that the SNTMMSRM should represent its employees rather than the CTM. The company also promised to reinstate the dismissed workers and not take reprisals against striking workers.
In May 2014, the SNTMMSRM began the fight to represent the workers by recruiting workers who were unhappy about the low sums paid to workers as part of the company’s profit-sharing scheme. Despite the agreement with workers and the miners’ union in April, Teksid dismissed 17 workers on 26 November, including the workers’ spokeswoman and leader, Imelda Jimenez.
Solidarity averts violence
With memories of last year’s violence, the union took steps to prevent further violence at the hearing in Monclova. It alerted the federal authorities and asked deputies and Bishop Raùl Vera for help. This solidarity was enough to avert further violence.
The hearing was suspended until 25 February. Meanwhile the SNTMMSRM is trying to bypass the local board and get the federal board to authorize a vote so that workers at Teksid, Gunderson and Pytco can decide whether they want to stay with the CTM or change to the SNTMMSRM.
IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates will continue to monitor the situation closely. They express their unconditional support for the demands of the workers at the three companies in their fight for a democratic union.