The dispute over the democratization of the union at Teksid Hierro, part of the Fiat Chrysler group, in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico, began on 16 April this year with a strike in protest at the disgracefully low wages and benefits. More than 600 workers wanted to see the CTM union thrown out and replaced by the National Miners’ Union, the SNTMMSRM.
The company repressed the strike, dismissed three workers and organized a brutal and large-scale attack by CTM thugs on eleven workers. However, it later signed an agreement with the SNTMMSRM in which it promised to reinstate the three dismissed workers; make profit sharing payments to workers and, most important, respect workers’ right to join a union of their choice. It also agreed not to take reprisals against workers who took part in the strike.
However, on 26 November, Teksid Hierro dismissed 17 workers, including their spokeswoman, Imelda Jimenez, for calling on the company to comply with the agreement.
The company claimed it had dismissed the workers because production had ended and their contracts were temporary. However, the truth is that the company was trying to intimidate the workers prior to the vote that will decide which union will have collective bargaining rights.
The union has criticized the dismissals and says the company is trying to provoke the workers into stopping work like they did on19 April.
The dismissed workers said:
“Production is still going ahead and we fulfil all the legal requirements for the right to permanent contracts; they dismissed us because, on 19 May, we took the lead in asking the company to remove the CTM so we could be represented by the SNTMMSRM, led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.”
The company dismissed the workers before paying them their benefits and wages and tried to force them to accept their redundancy cheques or they would be left without any money during the Christmas holiday period. Imelda Jiménez and Joel Silva accused the company of lying, refused to sign their redundancy settlement papers and decided to continue the struggle. It is important to understand that workers who do not sign redundancy papers can continue to seek reinstatement and payment of unpaid wages and vote in the election to choose which union should represent the workforce.
Imelda said that after she was dismissed and refused to accept redundancy, she organized a meeting for her colleagues, who were joined by a national SNTMMSRM representative and union lawyer, Mr Alzaga, who communicated the union’s unconditional support.
“We are claiming unfair dismissal and demanding my reinstatement and payment of unpaid wages. My colleagues will support me all the way and I will fight to the end”, she said.
The workers know that a labour board meeting is scheduled for 10 December to hear the union’s application to represent the workers for collective bargaining purposes and to set a date for a vote. It is clear that the company dismissed the workers in an attempt to intimidate them prior to the ballot.
Manuel Prince Durán, union representative in Monclova, Coahuila, said that the union is supporting the workers at Teksid and that the workers want a genuine union that does something to combat the exploitation to which they are subjected. He said that the workers know that if the mining union gains representation rights, it will support the dismissed workers legally and financially during the whole process of seeking redress.
Workers of TEKSID, united we will win the struggle and the vote! said the union.
IndustriALL Global Union completely rejects the unfair dismissals and Teksid’s intimidation of workers and demands that the authorities protect the workers and defend their union rights.