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PROFILE: Mexico's Los Mineros mark 88 years of union struggle

14 November, 2022The National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, Los Mineros, marks 88 years of fighting for labour justice, democracy and freedom of association.

Union profile

From Global Worker

no 2 November 2022


Country: Mexico

Union: Los Mineros.        

Text: Kimber Mayer

Los Mineros, representing more than 3.5 million workers in Mexico, has marked a number of victories in 2022. It won several union votes giving it the right to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, including at Canada’s Americas Gold and Silver, which runs the Cosalá mine in Sinaloa, and Teksid Hierro, which operates in Frontera, Coahuila.

The union was up against unions affiliated to the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). Los Mineros say that the companies tended to back these unions because they guaranteed cheap labour and disregarded safety conditions. So far in 2022, Los Mineros have secured wage increases of more than 8 per cent and other benefits, and have managed to protect workers' real wages against inflation.

IndustriALL Global Union followed the process at Teksid Hierro closely where Los Mineros won a resounding victory in September 2022. Almost 80 per cent of the workers voted for the union to become the sole legal representative of the collective bargaining agreement at the company, ending an eight-year-long struggle. Since 2014, workers had condemned the anti-union tactics used to block Los Mineros' initiative to establish a democratic union at the company. 

The elections were held as part of the 2019 reform to the country’s Federal Labour Law. The reform aim to build real industrial relations through new, democratic unions and thus improve freedom of association in the country. It ensures that workers can freely decide, through a secret and direct ballot, which union to join and which leaders should represent them. 

The law also stipulates that workers must approve the provisions of their collective contracts within a period of no more than four years, through an individual, free, direct and secret ballot. This is to ensure that workers are aware of the provisions of their collective agreement and that the collective bargaining is a free process. As part of this procedure, unions first decide whether to keep or reject the existing collective agreements, which helps to eliminate the so-called employer protection contracts.  

The labour reform is being phased in across each of the country's states. The first phase was completed in 2020, the second in 2021 and the third and final stage began in October 2022. According to official government figures, so far:

  • 350,000 workers have elected their union leaders through a direct, secret ballot. 
  • Two million workers have decided whether to approve their existing collective bargaining agreements as part of a consultation process.
  • 8,083 collective bargaining agreements have been approved, with wages 5.7 per cent higher than those stipulated in the agreements that were not approved. 

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, Los Mineros’ general secretary, a Mexican senator and member of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee, said:

"Los Mineros has faced and overcome many challenges and setbacks since it was created on 11 July 1934, nearly 9 decades ago. Our work has focused on achieving decent wages, fair benefits, better safety conditions that prevent fatal accidents, and respect for the environment.

“We are proud of our history. We are also proud of the role we have played in Mexico’s major social and workers' struggles and our continued commitment to the fight for labour justice, democracy and trade union freedom. "

The official deadline to legalize all collective labour contracts in the country is six months. There are hundreds of thousands of contracts registered with the Secretary of labour and social security. Many contracts will still be won by protection unions as the capacity to fight and win this enormous amount of contracts is overwhelming. IndustriALL hopes affiliates have the power to turn around as many contracts as possible; Mexican workers deserve nothing less