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Workers at General Motors' Silao plant secure historic win

23 August, 2021On 17 and 18 August, workers at the General Motors (GM) plant in Silao, Mexico, voted against the current collective bargaining agreement, which since 2008 has been controlled by Tereso Medina, general secretary of the Miguel Trujillo López union, affiliated to the business-friendly Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

A total of 6,480 workers cast their ballot. There were 2,623 votes in favour of the agreement, 3,214 against, and 39 spoiled ballots. As a result, the current collective agreement will be scrapped.

Workers will not lose any of their rights, and their benefits and working conditions will remain the same until new representatives are elected.

"The union should now get to sign a new collective employment agreement,”

explained Héctor de la Cueva, general coordinator for Mexico’s centre for employment and labour relations research (CILAS), at a press conference.

The victory is unprecedented for the workers at the GM plant, which employs close to 7,000 people. The workers had reported serious irregularities in the voting process during the initial ballot in April this year and lodged the first-ever complaint under the rapid response mechanism, provided for in the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

To ensure a free, safe and transparent voting process, free from harassment and intimidation, the Mexican and US governments agreed to repeat the vote in the presence of independent observers from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Mexico's National Electoral Institute (INE), alongside federal work inspectors from the country's labour ministry.

Many of Mexico's democratically run unions – including the federation of independent unions in the automobile, automotive parts, aerospace and tyre industries (FESIIAAAN), the “Generando Movimiento” union, the new central union of workers (NCT) and the Los Mineros union – set up camp outside the plant to show their support for the GM workers during the voting process.

At the international level, IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in the United States and Canada, as well as the regional network of GM workers, followed this key vote closely and were very happy with the outcome.  

IndustriALL Global Union's general secretary, Valter Sanches, says:

"We congratulate the brave workers at GM's Silao plant for their determination and for their victorious struggle for freedom of association. It's clear that we still have much work to do, but the workers can count on IndustriALL Global Union and our affiliates around the world. We will be by their side, helping them to secure full union freedom and dignified working conditions. The outcome of this ballot brings great hope and new prospects for workers in Mexico."