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Legal victory for Honda workers’ independent union in Mexico

3 February, 2014The Honda workers’ trade union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Unidos de Honda México (STUHM) has had to overcome many obstacles in its long struggle for the right to represent workers for collective bargaining purposes.

The company and the Joint Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA) have hindered its efforts all the way. The union overcame one more obstacle on 24 January when the justice system ruled that the workers have the right to join the union of their choice and that a separate union does not have the power to request cancellation of STUHM’s official registration as a union.

The ruling means that the company, the government and the protection unions must stop attacks against the union. This is a big victory for the Mexican independent trade union movement, especially for STUHM members.

Since 2010, workers at Honda México and their union STUHM have been organising with the aim securing the right to negotiate a collective agreement to improve health and safety at work, increase pay, eliminate excessive and arbitrary shift allocations, stop unfair dismissals and unexplained deductions from wages and benefits and put an end to official representation of the workers by the protection union, the Sindicato de Empleados y Trabajadores en la Estructura, Armadura Motriz e Industrial (SETEAMI), a CTM affiliate.

The Directorate General of the Registry of Associations, part of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (STPS) has committed a series of irregularities while processing STUHM’s application for trade union registration. It delayed the process for longer than expected, until 2011, by which time the union’s entire executive committee had been dismissed or threatened. The company dismissed more workers at the Jalisco factory in 2013. The STUHM responded with demonstrations and solidarity actions and demanded immediate intervention by the federal government to reinstate the workers and put an end to the company’s intimidation, threats and violation of the workers’ right to join a union of their choice.

The union has called on the JFCA to comply with the collegiate court’s ruling and issue a definitive judgment against the outstanding request to cancel the union’s registration because of the plaintiff’s lack of legitimacy. It has also called on the JFCA to set a date for workplace elections so that the workers can vote on which union they want to represent them for collective bargaining purposes.

National and international unions have expressed their support for STUHM and demanded that the JFCA comply with the court’s ruling. IndustriALL Global Union wrote a letter of solidarity, wishing success to the STUHM and its members.

“We want to congratulate you on your legal victory and express our support for your attempts to seek compliance with the ruling that obliges the JFCA to issue a judgment recognising the right of workers at Honda México to belong to a trade union of their choice and establishing that no other union can restrict another union’s activities, intervene in its internal affairs or request cancellation of another union’s registration”.

- Jyrki Raina, General Secretary, in his letter of support to the STUHM.