Strikes by members of the Mexican metals and mining union Los Mineros brought three large silver, gold mines and copper mines owned by one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim, to a standstill this week. The mines recognise pro-company “yellow” unions rather than the independent Los Mineros union, led by Napoleon Gomez, currently living and working in exile in Canada.
The disputes began when workers in the pro-company union decided to join the Los Mineros union. One of the mines owned by the Minera Frisco company sacked more than 200 workers in retaliation for switching union allegiance. Similar actions have taken place at the other mines. The yellow unions are docile, pro-government front organizations with little shop-floor presence, who almost never strike and regularly sign contracts that favour employers.