11 February, 2014Three leaders of the Honda workers’ trade union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Unidos de Honda de México (STUHM) and an activist accompanying them, were detained while distributing leaflets outside the Honda factory. Police officers used excessive force when arresting them, held them incommunicado for hours and subjected them to physical and psychological torture.
The union leaders were arrested while leafleting outside the plant on the afternoon of 5 February to inform workers about the recent court ruling in the union’s favour. The detainees were union members Raúl Celestino Pallares, Esteban Acero and Raúl Rojas and an activist accompanying them.
The police said they had detained the men for a breach of the peace. Two of them were released after paying a fine. The other two leaders were transferred to the public prosecutor’s office and charged with attempting to cause injury to a police officer.
José Luis Solorio, STUHM general secretary, said he received a phone call from one of the leaders just as one of the police officers struck him. This is yet another act of repression against the union. The leaders were assaulted as they were being transferred in a police van. While under detention, they were subjected to psychological torture, were held at gunpoint all the time and the police burned their skin with lighted cigarettes.
STUHM confirmed that the police threatened to continue the detention of two union members by “making serious charges that were ridiculous and disproportionate, with the purpose of hindering STUHM’s activities”.
The union members were released thanks to pressure from other trade unions and civil society organizations. However, Solorio demanded an immediate halt to repression and intimidation of STUHM. He also warned that: “These barbaric acts will not discourage or frighten our members. The labour authorities MUST convene workplace elections so that workers can vote on which union they want to represent them for collective bargaining purposes.”
STUHM calls on all trade unions, civil society organizations and the general public to follow the situation closely and show their solidarity with STUHM, “because we will not give in the fight”.
IndustriALL Global Union condemns the occurrence of this kind of intimidation so soon after the court ruling in favour of STUHM, http://www.industriall-union.org/legal-victory-for-honda-workers-independent-union-in-mexico and again calls on the authorities and the company to respect the workers' right to join a trade union of their own choice.