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IndustriALL demands justice for the victims of the Pasta de Conchos disaster

23 February, 2021Friday 19 February marked the 15th anniversary of the Pasta de Conchos tragedy in which 65 workers were killed at the Grupo Mexico mine. IndustriALL is demanding justice for the victims. It is also calling for the bodies of 63 workers still buried underground to be recovered.

It has been 15 years since the explosion at Coal Mine 8, owned by mining company Grupo Mexico, in Pasta de Conchos, Coahuila. The explosion, which occurred after methane gas built up to dangerously high levels, caused the mine to collapse, trapping 65 workers inside.

 "Grupo Mexico has been negligent and irresponsible on several occasions – it caused the Pasta de Conchos tragedy as well as toxic spills into the Sonora River and the Sea of Cortés, among other incidents. The company has never been held accountable for its actions,"

said Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, who is a Mexican senator and president of the Los Mineros national mineworkers' union, an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate.

At the time, the union had raised concerns about safety at the mine and demanded changes that could have helped to prevent the tragedy. And after the disaster, the union called for the bodies to be recovered, for the families to receive fair and dignified compensation, and for there to be an objective inquiry into the tragedy.

The union also filed lawsuits against the company for industrial homicide and negligence, but they were unfortunately rejected by previous governments. In addition, the company has not properly compensated families, the authorities did not conduct an objective investigation, and no company officials or shareholders have been prosecuted.

Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced in a press conference that efforts to rescue the bodies had begun. He also said that he was in constant contact with the miners' families, and that the government was playing its part in repairing the damage.

The president said that holding those responsible to account was a legal process and fell under the responsibility of the public prosecutor.

IndustriALL affiliate the United Steelworkers issued a statement calling for justice for the victims of the Pasta de Conchos disaster and for Grupo Mexico to be held accountable by the governments of both Mexico and the United States of America.

IndustriALL's deputy secretary general, Kemal Özkan, added:

"The industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos remains fresh in our minds. We have not forgotten, we will never forget and we will never forgive. Los Mineros in Mexico will continue to fight for justice, and so will the entire global mining family here at IndustriALL."