29 October, 2015The Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union (SME) has won an important victory: after six years of struggle, resistance and negotiations, it has signed an agreement with the federal government that gives it control over a number of electricity generating plants. This will mean new jobs for thousands of workers who have been unemployed since 2009.
"The campaign we have conducted through the courts and in the political arena ended in an agreement with the federal government on 7 October 2015. The agreement hands over control of electricity generating capacity to Fénix, a company formed by the SME and the Portuguese company Mota Engil”, explained the union’s general secretary, Martín Esparza Flores.
In 2009, more than 44,000 electrical industry workers lost their jobs after military and police forces violently removed them from their workplaces at the state-owned electricity company Luz y Fuerza del Centro following an illegal presidential decree. Since then, 16,599 SME members have been fighting for their rights.
Finally, after a six-year campaign, the SME has won an important victory after the federal government handed over control of 14 hydroelectric plants and the J. Luke thermal power plant in Necaxa, Puebla, and in Tepuxtepec, Michoacán.
"It was exciting to be back in Necaxa and put my overalls back on. The workers had mixed feelings on going back into the installations we have always operated”, said Flores.
As well as handing over the hydroelectric plants, the government will provide SME with 40 buildings, factories and workshops for maintenance of the electricity generating plants. The union has registered a national collective agreement at the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA). Beginning operations at Necaxa is an important step but the SME will continue to press for jobs for all those who were involved in the union’s fight.
Fernando Lopes, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union commented on the SME victory:
The SME’s struggle is exemplary. IndustriALL is proud to have supported the union from the start and so will also celebrate this major victory, which will mean thousands of jobs and the survival of an independent trade union. Long live Fénix, long live the SME, long live the struggle!