From the TUC

Union busting in Mexico continues

28 Jun 2014, By Guest

Once again we have seen the ugly face of union busting and the imposition of a ‘yellow union’ on a Mexican workforce demanding change, better pay and recognition of their chosen union.

CB&I Matamoros sacked 350 workers after they went on strike on 3 June demanding better working conditions and representation by the metals and mining union Los Mineros (SNTMMSRM).

Workers at CB&I are demanding the company comply with ILO Convention 87 and respect their decision to be represented by the union of their choice.

The CB&I workers are also calling for an end to reprisals against workers who went on strike; payment of wages for days not worked while on strike; a weekly bonus equivalent to 100 per cent of wages for all workers and permanent contracts for all temporary workers.

In a statement CB&I workers said:

“We want to be members of the union that does most to guarantee and defend our rights. The miners’ union does defend workers’ rights and union dues start at 1.5 per cent of wages, less than the 4 per cent rate at the union that claims to represent us.”

CB&I, which manufacturers stainless and carbon steel pipes and other metallic structures has refused to recognise Los Mineros and has imposed the ‘Day Laborers and Industrial Workers’ Union of the Maquiladora Industry’ (Sindicato de Jornaleros y Obreros Industriales y de la Industria Maquiladora de H. Matamoros) on the workers.

Imposing ‘yellow unions’ (known in Mexico as ‘protection unions’) on workers has now become a regular tactic used by companies, especially in northern Mexico and in the Gulf Coast regions: areas which have sucked in manufacturing plants based on cheap labour and poor working conditions.

Yellow unions are given recognition rights by companies and imposed on workers to keep out independent unions. ‘Protection union’ leaders stand accused of receiving ‘kickbacks’, negotiating secret deals designed to shield companies from industrial action and demands for improved working conditions. The agreements are known as ‘protection contracts’. Mass sackings and reprisals on local union leaders demanding independent unions usually take place.

In April this year workers at Teksid Hierro, part of Fiat Chrysler Group in Ciudad Frontera, Coahuila, Mexico threw out a union after a strike. They eventually won union recognition for their chosen union – Los Mineros again – as well as re-instatement of their local union leaders.

CB&I workers have met company representatives at the Conciliation and Arbitration Board, and are preparing a complaint for unfair dismissal for presentation to the Board. Earlier this month workers also made a formal request for Los Mineros to be awarded representation rights for collective bargaining purposes.

The company has so far not responded to the commission’s demand for it to appoint representatives with the power to negotiate the list of workers’ demands and facilitate a return to work.