From September 29 to October 3 IndustriALL and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) organized a meeting with union representatives from European, American, Canadian and Japanese auto companies and Mexican unions in Mexico City.
High level representatives from almost all auto companies which have production sites in Mexico participated in this meeting, such as Audi and MAN from Volkswagen Group, Ford, GM, Chrysler, AB Volvo, Honda and Nissan (represented by JAW), Bosch and Mahle.
From the Mexican side, the correspondent unions from the Mexican plants of the companies mentioned above, as well as several independent unions such as STUHM, which is fighting for recognition at Honda, los Mineros involved in organising in auto parts (PKC) and other unions representing workers from the automotive sector participated in intense debates about the unionisation in this strategic sector for the Mexican economy.
It is worth mentioning that at the same time as our meeting was held, several Industriall affiliates joined the progressive organizations in a huge national rally which included all the democratic and independent unions(los Mineros, SME , CNTE- Teachers , CNT, FAT, Honda etc) against the neo liberal reforms proposed by the Federal Government, and in commemoration of the infamous students massacre (Tlatelolco) on October 2, 1968.
The aim of the Automotive sector meeting was to inform the international participants about the union situation in Mexico and to continue the work of IndustriALL in Mexico.
On the third day of the meeting, all the international participants visited “their” plant to figure out the concrete situation there. The participants then came back to the meeting on the fourth day to share and discuss their different experiences. Some of the international unionists already had previous contacts with their correspondent union, some others created new contacts and in several plants it became absolutely clear that there was no real union. In these cases, the employer has a contract with a “ghost” union to protect the company from having a real union and the workers normally don´t know that they are compulsory members of a pseudo “union” and have no idea of the existence of a collective agreement.
At the end of the meeting we made the following decisions and recommendations:
- Wherever it is possible we will invite the Mexican unions to the Global Company Networks if this isn´t already done
- We will cooperate with management in the companies which have signed GFA´s, to make sure, that also in Mexico the workers enjoy the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
- We will invite representatives of the Mexican unions to visit the union HQ to see how the union is working there
- We will have common seminars organized by unions from Europe and North America.
- We will have a 2nd workshop next year to evaluate our advances and work
- Local network activities will be carried out in close cooperation between IndustriALL and FES.
- We will continue the work initiated by the ITUC, IndustrIALL and TUCA high level mission in 2013 in relation to the Mexican government and the OECD and ILO complaints and will seek to invite employers like Volkswagen,Volvo and some Mexican unions to participate in this process of social dialogue.
Several important side meetings also took place, as for example between the independent union of Continental workers (SNTGTM), USW and IndustriALL, as well as between the JAW and Honda union from Japan and STUHM (the Mexican union which is trying to organize workers at Honda Mexico) who discussed the situation at the Honda plant where management dismissed the leadership of STUHM because of their unionizing activities, between JAW and Los Mineros ; a briefing on the situation at PKC, Ciudad Acuña, talks between UAW & Nissan Cuernavaca, and a meeting among the independent and democratic unions in the sector also took place after the official meeting.
After the meeting the Japanese delegation had also planned a meeting with the Japanese embassy and other institutions as well as a study visit.
Helmut Lense express IndustriALL’s views in his conclusion speech:
We should be inclusive and ready to work and respect different political, ideological and cultural beliefs and cultures but we have two fundamental principles that should always be followed: first, the workers should decide freely which union they want to join and second, the collective bargaining process should be transparent and driven by the workers” .