Thirty-three workers have won an important victory in their fight for reinstatement at Vidriera de San Luis Potosí. The company, which dismissed hundreds of workers in 2008 for forming an independent trade union, makes bottles for the export beer brand Corona Extra and is a subsidiary of Grupo Modelo-AB InBev.
The independent trade union, Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Empresa Industria Vidriera del Potosí (SUTEIVP), with strong support from its members (about 850), won a 19 per cent pay rise in 2007, higher than any won for a long time in the state. The response of companies located at the San Luis Potosí industrial estate was not long in coming. They felt they could not tolerate this unacceptable precedent in labour relations, which showed that an independent union founded by the workers themselves could provide an alternative to “official” trade unionism.
“Vidriera de San Potosí began to dismiss its workers six years, three months and nine days ago, as a reprisal for their decision to leave the CTM and form an independent trade union capable of winning substantial improvements in pay, benefits and working conditions at this bottle-making factory, which supplies the Corona Extra export beer brand” reports Francisco Retama, SUTEIVP policy advisor.
The dismissed trade unionists, with the invaluable support of their wives and families, maintained their strong and firm position to continue their fight under the slogan “no going back”, spread news of their struggle and received widespread support and solidarity within Mexico and internationally.
The reinstatement of the SUTEIVP members in resistance has been a constant demand of the Action Days for Mexico campaign led by IndustriALL, Mexican democratic trade unions and the Trinational Solidarity Alliance in defence of labour and trade union rights of Mexican workers. A complaint about the case was also submitted to the Committee for the Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which, three years ago, ordered the authorities to resolve the issue “in the near future”.
In addition to ordering the reinstatement of members of the independent trade union, the Conciliation and Arbitration Board “ordered the defendant company INDUSTRIA VIDRIERA DEL POTOSÍ, S. A. DE C. V. to reinstate workers to their posts under the same terms and conditions of employment that existed prior to their dismissal and pay them an amount corresponding to outstanding unpaid wages”, which will continue to accumulate “until they are reinstated in accordance with this ruling”.
This task is now the responsibility of the Grupo Modelo directors appointed after the purchase of the beer company by the Belgian-Brazilian consortium AB-Inbev. It must pay the wages due to the dismissed workers as well as benefits provided for by law, which will accumulate until the workers are reinstated to the jobs they were doing when they were dismissed.
IndustriALL welcomes this major victory of its affiliate SUTEIVP, after a hard-fought battle and exemplary resistance! We hope the company complies with the ruling and we reiterate our support for the reinstatement of the dismissed workers.