9 December, 2020Earlier this year, workers at Electrolux’ factory in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, tried to engage the company in dialogue when management insisted on keeping operations running despite an emergency decree allowing only essential work, despite Covid infections among staff and a lack of personal protection equipment. When that failed, protests were launched on 7 April and the Swedish multinational responded by dismissing nearly 100 people.
When the Covid-19 pandemic reached Mexico at the end of March, workers at the Electrolux factory in Ciudad Juárez asked management to close the factory after members of staff had contracted the virus. Instead, production continued until 20 April, by which time 16 workers had fallen ill and two had died from Covid.
Workers who protested against management’s refusal to close the factory were forced to sign voluntary dismissals. In total 99 people were let go. A group of workers signed the voluntary dismissal because they need the money and they know that in Mexico, a legal demand against the Swedish multinational can take up to four years.
Electrolux conducted an external investigation into the events which reveals that Electrolux did not follow internal processes:
“The company does recognize that the events escalated in an unfortunate way. The company will therefore seek to open a dialogue with the former employees on an individual basis in an effort to fully and finally resolve any disputes related to the termination. Furthermore, Electrolux will review existing policies, routines and training programs to ensure the Workplace Directive can be followed even in very challenging situations.”
IndustriALL Swedish affiliate Unionen, who represents workers at Electrolux operations in Sweden, welcomes the investigation and its conclusion, and looks forward to continue a genuine dialogue with the company.
“The dismissed workers must be duly compensated and have the right to be represented if they so choose. Electrolux has announced they will review existing policies and routines, which is encouraging and a step in the right direction. A direct dialogue and allowing workers a voice are crucial.”
Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL electronics director, says:
“The global framework agreement that Electrolux has signed with the Swedish unions and IndustriALL provides a framework for respecting workers’ rights all over the world. The company must respect the workers who peacefully exercised their right to ask the management taking appropriate action to prevent workplace as stated in the agreement.
“The situation in Ciudad Juarez is still critical and Electrolux cannot ignore workers right to adequate protection and compensation.”
Unionen and IndustriALL will continue to closely monitor the situation.