To mark the first day of the Global Unions week of action in support of Mexican workers, a TUC General Council delegation visited the Mexican embassy this morning to meet with political consular Miguel Garcia-Zamudio. I went along, as the TUC’s member of the ILO Governing Body, along with UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt (the General Council international spokesperson), CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes (also president of the UNI global union’s telecommunications sector), and Unite Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke.
Sally began by pointing out that whilst we welcomed the chance to meet with the embassy the reality was that since a similar TUC delegation had last with officials, the situation in Mexico had worsened rather than improved;
- Protection contracts were still prevalent (these are the agreements signed by employers with tame or fake unions which exclude independent unions from organising)
- Long promised labour law reforms introduced last year have in fact made the situation worse for workers, failing to deal with protection contracts, increasing job insecurity by encouraging widespread outsourcing and allowing for mass dismissals of workers who do try to organise independent democratic unions
- Napoleon Gomez, general secretary of the Los Mineros mining and metal workers union remains in exile in Canada
- And the bodies of the victims of the Pasta Conchos mine disaster in 2006 remain unrecovered, with no sign of further investigation into why the disaster happened or any action against those responsible.
Tony pointed to the mass dismissals of workers employed by PKC, a Finnish auto-parts maker, Honda the Japanese car giant and 16,500 electricity workers in Mexico City who had tried to defend their right to belong to the SME union. And Billy highlighted the continued failure of the Mexican authorities to deal with detailed issues raised by the International labour Organisation and to meet their obligations to enter into dialogue with all unions, not just those who for historic reasons have privileged access to state systems.
Letters from Frances O’Grady on behalf of the TUC and Len McClusky, Unite General Secretary and Leo Gerard of the US United Steel Workers on behalf of Workers Uniting were handed over, outlining our concerns in detail.
On behalf of the Mexican embassy Snr. Garcia-Zamudio welcomed the chance to engage in discussion with British unions on these issues and promised to convey our views ‘clearly and bluntly’ back to the ministries of foreign affairs and labour so that they could see the strength of feeling around the world.
Following some more detailed responses on the background to our concerns from the embassy Sally concluded by requesting;
- More information on the position of Los Mineros general secretary Napoleon Gomez
- An update on the possibility of recovering the victims of the 2006 Pasta de Conchos disaster and information on what steps had been taken to investigate and prosecute those responsible
- Information on what steps the government of President Pena Nieto was taking to meet the concerns raised by the ILO committee of experts and the committee on application of standards.
It was agreed we would contact the embassy again once this information had been received.
The week of action continues until the 24 February, with a public meeting in London on Wednesday 20 February.
You can register your support online as well, by taking Labourstart’s latest e-action in support of dismissed workers. And more information on the campaign to support our Mexican colleagues can be found at the IndustriALL website.