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LafargeHolcim fires workers for organizing union in Mexico

2 April, 2019On 28 and 29 March, LafargeHolcim subsidiary Apasco fired six more workers in Hermosillo, Mexico for joining the miners’ union, Los Mineros, an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union. They were all permanent workers.

A total of 12 workers at LafargeHolcim Apasco cement plant in Hermosillo paid with their jobs for executing their right to organize and join a union of their choice.

The company practices an extreme form of outsourcing: some 500 of the 600 strong workforce are outsourced workers with poor salaries and no social protection. The company attempted to justify the latest six dismissals as part of restructuring. It is likely they will be replaced by lower paid and less protected outsourced workers.

Earlier, at the end of 2016, a group of six out of 70 permanent workers decided to join Los Mineros. Unhappy about their working conditions and having their rights ignored, workers saw joining Los Mineros as the only way to improve their situation.

The management-controlled union, a member of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), which at that time had some 30 other permanent workers as their compulsory members, learned of these organizing efforts and informed the company which then sacked six activists in February 2017. They were experienced workers with seven to ten years’ tenure.

For years, the CTM has been known for its notorious practice of concluding protection bargaining contracts with employers which block other unions from organizing workers at the factory, and while at the same time preventing them from proper participation in collective bargaining and expressing their demands. At the same time many workers are employed through external contractors, who are allegedly companies owned by managers and directors of the company.

The activists have audio records of the procedure of dismissal during which they were told that that was their last day of work because of the affiliation cards they collected.

The workers fired in 2017 tried to sue the company for violation of their rights and illegal dismissals, but the company replied that the only reason for dismissals was absenteeism, since workers stopped attending work. Workers are blamed the local government and court relations with the CTM which traditionally enjoyed the strong support of previous ruling party PRI.

The situation at the factory reportedly deteriorated after these dismissals. According to audio records, workers complain of constant threats of dismissal from CTM, saying they would share the fate of the fired if they opposed them. Workers are also reporting safety regulation violations leading to different accidents, including the loss of fingers.

Workers are reportedly not allowed to report these accidents to insurance services in order to keep their workplace “free of accidents”. They are then instructed to continue attending work, but instead they are instructed to do paperwork the office.