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Workers at General Motors' Silao plant condemn threats after elections

13 October, 2021The vote to scrap the collective agreement controlled by the Miguel Trujillo López union, affiliated to the business-friendly Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), has resulted in threats and harassment of the workers supporting the new, independent union.

Despite 54 per cent of the workers voting against the collective agreement in August, workers are still being harassed by General Motors (GM), violating ILO Convention 98 on right to organize and collective bargaining. Workers who support the new union are pressured by CTM to vote in favour of the agreement to be put forward by the Miguel Trujillo López union in the next round of voting.

The national union of automotive workers (SINTTIA) – the new union seeking to represent workers – has condemned GM for refusing to recognize the union or to meet with its representatives before 3 November, when the current collective agreement ends.

In addition, GM has added to the uncertainty and created a "legal limbo" when announcing that the current agreement would be terminated after the vote.

However, authorities announced one month later that the agreement would remain in effect until 3 November, three months after the ballot. This could alter the legal framework under which the new agreement is negotiated. Even though it lost the ballot, the CTM union is required to continue to fulfil its obligations under the current agreement until the agreement comes to an end. Yet it has refused to provide funeral assistance and other economic benefits even though it is still receiving union dues.

When an employee from Irapuato fell ill at work, GM refused to take her to hospital, arguing that it could not do so because the union was not operational, as it no longer represented the workers.

Alejandra Morales Reynoso, secretary general of SINTTIA, said:

"Nobody wanted to do anything to help our colleague. She had to make her own way to the hospital. The union has nothing to do with the medical services provided by General Motors.”

SINTTIA has announced that it will lodge a complaint under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and with the labour ministry.

Mario Vani; IndustriALL regional secretary, said:

"IndustriALL is concerned about the uncertain situation at GM's Silao plant and about the harassment and bullying of workers supporting SINTTIA. We call on the labour authorities and GM to ensure that the workers' fundamental rights are respected and that there is no discrimination against SINTTIA, which is an independent union.

"Rejecting the employer-protection agreement was the first major step. Now, we have to make sure that there is union freedom in Mexico and that the workers at the Silao plant can elect their union freely and without intimidation."