In recent years the few genuinely independent trade unions seeking to improve the lives of Mexican workers have found themselves increasingly under fire.
The Mexican Miners’ Union (Los Mineros), the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union (SME), the 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) have all faced violent attacks, intimidation and repression of trade union rights.
One of the biggest obstacles to freedom of association for workers in Mexico is the prevalence of “protection contracts,” collective agreements negotiated between employers and “official” unions or corrupt lawyers, which serve to “protect” the employer from the emergence of truly representative and democratic trade unions and genuine negotiations to improve wages and working conditions. Protection contracts are negotiated without the knowledge and/or consent of workers and are often in place in a factory even prior to the hiring of workers. Mexican labour rights experts estimate that the vast majority of collective bargaining agreements in the country are in fact protection contracts.
From February 14-18 trade unions in Canada and around the world are joining in the International Days of Action in support the independent trade union movement in Mexico and the right of Mexican workers to be represented by the union of their free choice.
During the week rallies are being held in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver at the Mexican embassy and consulates in those cities to show solidarity with Mexican workers. Meetings are also planned between Canadian union leaders and Mexican embassy and consular officials to discuss these pressing issues.
Planned Canadian rallies:
* Toronto rally: February 14, 13:00-14:00 @ Mexican Consulate (199 Bay Street)
* Montreal rally: February 15, 11:30-13:30 @ Mexican Consulate (2055 Peel Street)
* Ottawa rally: February 15, 15:00-16:00 @ Mexican Embassy (45 O’Conner Street)
* Vancouver rally: February 17, 10:30-12:00 @ Mexican Consulate (Harbour Green Park West Cordova & Bute)
Trade unions from around the world are calling on the Mexican government to:
1. Hold employer and government officials accountable for the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion that killed 65 miners on February 19, 2006.
2. Abolish systemic violations of workers’ freedom of association, including employer-dominated “protection contracts” and interference in union elections.
3. 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.
4. End the campaign of political persecution against the Mexican Miner’s Union and the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union.