Mexico: Defend trade union rights February 14 to 19

Trade unions around the world have called for days of action to pressure the government of Mexico to respect trade union rights.

Four global union federations as well as the International Trade Union Confederation have answered the call of Mexico’s independent unions for help.

As part of that effort, they have asked LabourStart to launch a major online campaign to send messages of protest to the Mexican government.

Please take a moment to do so now – to send your message go here:

http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=863

Five years ago an explosion at Grupo México’s Pasta de Conchos coal mine killed 65 miners. The bodies of 63 of the 65 miners remain buried (view Pasta de Conches memorial here) and the Mexican government has failed to investigate or prosecute those responsible. Instead the Mexican government has escalated its illegal and violent attacks on the Mexican Miners’ Union (SNTMMSRM), after it demanded justice and the recovery of the miners’ bodies.

Independent unions including the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union (SME), the UNTyPP union representing workers in Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company PEMEX, the National Union of General Tyre Workers of Mexico (SNTGTM) and the Union of the Autonomous University of Mexico’s Workers (SUTUACM), as well as the Mexican Telephone Workers’ Union (STRM), the Authentic Workers’ Front (FAT) and up to thirty other unions affiliated to the National Union of Workers (UNT) have also all faced violent attacks, intimidation and repression of trade union rights.

The independent trade union movement in Mexico, supported by the IMF, ICEM, ITF, UNI Global Union, and ITUC are asking for your support to put pressure on the Mexican Government as, together with trade unions around the world, they take global action from February 14 to 19 defending trade union rights in Mexico.

Australian unions will join the global days of action demanding trade union rights in Mexico.

Not only has the Mexican government failed to investigate or prosecute those responsible for the 65 deaths of miners after an explosion at Grupo México’s Pasta de Conchos coal mine in 2006 – but it has stepped up its illegal and violent attacks on the Mexican Miners’ Union, after it demanded justice for the deaths.

The Mexican Miners’ Union is not alone. The few other genuinely independent trade unions seeking to improve the lives of Mexican workers have also found themselves increasingly under fire.

The Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union (SME), the UNTyPP union representing workers in Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company PEMEX, the National Union of General Tyre Workers of Mexico (SNTGTM) and the Mexican Telephone Workers’ Union (STRM) among others have all faced violent attacks, intimidation and repression of trade union rights.

The continued violations of the right to freedom of association by the Mexican Government must stop.

Trade unions from around the world call on the Mexican government to:

* Hold employer and government officials accountable for the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion that killed 65 miners on February 19, 2006.
* Abolish systemic violations of workers’ freedom of association, including employer-dominated “protection contracts” and interference in union elections.
* End the use of force—by the state or private parties—to repress workers’ legitimate demands for democratic unions, better wages and working conditions, and good health and safety conditions.
* End the campaign of political persecution against the Mexican Miners’ Union and the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union.

Trade unions in many countries will take action during 14-19 February including meetings with Mexican officials, protests, press events and outreach to TNCs operating in Mexico. Some of the actions being organized include:

Australia
The global campaign will hold a launch event with the support of Australian trade unions on 15 February at the AWU National Conference. Co-ordinated by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), with support from AWU, AMWU, CFMEU, MUA, CEPU, SDA and others, a rally will take place in Canberra on 18 February from 11.30am to 1.30pm. A delegation of senior union leaders is seeking a meeting with the Mexican Ambassador; unions are also seeking a separate meeting to brief the Australian government.

Canada
With co-ordinating support from the Canadian Labor Council (CLC), the CAW; CEP, TWU and USW are leading actions in Ottowa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, meeting with the Mexican Ambassador and holding demonstrations, depending on the local circumstances.

France
Unions in France are organizing for a delegation to visit the Mexican Embassy in Paris. In addition, through their existing relationship with managers, French unions are also contacting French TNCs about the situation of the companies’ production plants in Mexico regarding unions, collective bargaining and wage/working conditions.

Mexico
Unions in Mexico are planning to take action over the whole week, including a press conference in the capital, rallies at Embassies of countries where others are taking action and a march and seminar on February 19. The Mexican Miners’ Union is also planning a series of events in Pasta de Conchos, Puebla and elsewhere where the union has a strong presence.

Netherlands
FNV Bondgenoten will continue its trade union freedom campaign during the global week of action, including media work and asking five Dutch TNCs with protection contracts in Mexico to start dialogue with the trade union (AkzoNobel, Heineken, ING, Philips and Unilever). http://tradeunionfreedom.fnvcompanymonitor.nl/

Russia
Unions in Russia have requested for the right to protest at the Mexican Embassy, are preparing a letter to give to the Mexican ambassador and articles and press coverage on the issue.

Turkey
Basin–Is and other unions in Turkey will mobilize members to visit the Mexican embassy, give a protest letter and take an action in front of the embassy

USA
AFL-CIO and affiliates, including USW, identified five cities for actions: Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. In addition, UE has indicated they will organize actions in Boston and Raleigh, NC and UAW will organize actions in Detroit and Boston, with participation from CAW. SEIU and others will join the actions in several cities.

There are also various actions planned in Brazil, Panama, South Africa, Switzerland and other
countries.

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