Victory for workers! Agreement reached at Johnson Controls in Mexico

IMF welcomes new agreement between Johnson Controls and the Mexican Miners’ Union ensuring the reinstatement of workers beaten and forced to resign on August 16 and the August 27 deadline to formally rescind the protection contract with COS and recognize the Mexican Miners’ Union.

MEXICO: The Mexican Miners’ Union (SNTMMSRM) and local management reached an agreement on August 20, following violent attacks of union leaders and members at a Johnson Controls Interiors plant (Resurrección) in Puebla, Mexico which led to a four day protest strike and workers picketing outside the plant.

The agreement seeks to resolve the situation at the plant which resulted in unknown persons being given access to the Johnson Controls plant after midnight on August 16 threatening workers on the first shift and assaulting them with sticks and stones, leaving many injured.

Two of the members of the Executive Committee of the newly formed Section 308 of IMF-affiliated the Mexican Miners’ Union (SNTMMSRM), Cándido Barreucos and Vigilio Melendez, were beaten in a company office and were forced to sign letters of resignation under gunpoint.

The agreement reached on August 20 offers reinstatement to the two workers who were forced to resign, compensation to six workers who were injured and the company promises to examine the case of two of the local Johnson Controls supervisors who were present during the beating up of the two union leaders.

The Mexican Miners’ Union believes that the assailants were associated with the company-controlled “protection” union (the Confederacion de Organizaciones Sindicales, or COS) the union that was ejected after a three day strike by the workers in May of this year.

The agreement reached on August 20 also sets out a timetable for the company to rescind the protection contract with COS by no later than August 27, 2010 such that Johnson Controls will formally recognize the Mexican Miners’ Unions as the representative of the workers.

Unions around the world, including the United Steel Workers and the United Auto Workers in the U.S. where the parent company is based, expressed outrage at the attack sending letters of protest to the company demanding the workers’ rights be recognized.

Welcoming the agreement, IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina said that while the agreement is a very positive development the IMF will continue to monitor the situation at the plant very closely.

“Given the problems the workers and their union of choice, the Mexican Miners’ Union, encountered after reaching the earlier agreement with Johnson Controls in May, IMF and metalworker unions around the world will continue to monitor this situation very closely to see that the August 27 deadline is met,” said Jyrki.

“While it is right that Johnson Controls is reinstating the workers and investigating its supervisors that witnessed the attack, the IMF demands that all the perpetrators of the violence be properly investigated and prosecuted by the authorities in Mexico,” he added.

“Getting rid of protection contracts and protection unions in Mexico is not an easy task given the vast scale of corruption in Mexico. However, IMF and its partners in Mexico and elsewhere will continue the struggle to ensure Mexican workers have the right to freedom of association,” said Jyrki.Aug 26, 2010 – Anita Gardner

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