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Prestigious Norwegian award for Mexican trade union struggle

13 June, 2014At the ceremony for the Arthur Svensson International Prize for trade union rights in Oslo, winner Napoleón Gómez Urrutia’s wife accepted the award on his behalf. With death threats and arrest orders hanging over his head, the Mexican trade union leader remained in Canada.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the heroic head of the Mexican mineworkers union, Los Mineros, won this year’s Arthur Svensson International Prize for trade union rights. The prize is awarded by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Industri Energi.

Following the advice from his lawyers after a new arrest order and death threats,  Napoleón Gómez Urrutia stayed in Canada. Industri Energi president Leif Sande presented the prize to Napoleón’s wife Oralia Casso.

Since 2006 and Napoleon’s strong condemnation of the industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos, the mineworker leader has been persecuted by the corporate-government alliance and forced to lead the union from exile in Vancouver, Canada.

As the jury writes, "Gómez Urrutia plays a leading role in the struggle for democratic unions, free of government and employer control in Mexico.”

In her acceptance speech on behalf of her husband, Oralia Casso said:

Napoleon has always been a fighter for social causes and trade union freedom. His strategies are based on peace, justice, respect, and dignity.”

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said at the prize ceremony in Oslo:

This is a great acknowledgement of the on-going struggle by Napoleón Gómez and the brave members of Los Mineros for dignity and social justice. And it shows that the trade union world will continue to support free and independent unionism in Mexico. La lucha continua!”

Following the prize ceremony there was a panel discussion on Dirty Investment.

The Government Pension Fund of Norway is the largest pension fund and one of the biggest investors in the world. Industri Energi president Leif Sande pointed out that the Fund had invested one billion Norwegian crowns in anti-union mining group Grupo Mexico, which has refused the rescue the bodies of 65 miners who died in an explosion in 2006 and fights against independent unions with violence.

Sande said:

This is a company that gambles with people's lives and principles of freedom and justice that we in Norway takes as an obvious right. It is our obligation as union colleagues and as fellow human beings to speak out loud and clear: the Government Pension Fund of Norway must get out of Grupo Mexico. We will not be involved in dirty business.”