JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The murders of two striking mineworkers at a Canadian-owned mine in Mexico last week underscores the widespread repression of basic labour rights in Mexico – even when the employer is Canadian, according to the trade union United Steelworkers (USW).
The USW was referring to an armed group who, on Saturday, murdered two striking workers from Canada-based Torex Gold Resources’ Media Luna gold mine in the state of Guerrero.
"The root of these brutal murders is the widespread repression of labour rights in Mexico," said USW Canada national director Ken Neumann, urging the Canadian government to intervene with Mexican authorities and for the company to recognise the basic rights of Mexican workers to prevent further violence.
“The Mexican government and Torex . . . must ensure this conflict is resolved without further bloodshed," he said.
Torex reached a deal with one of Mexico's notorious ‘protection unions’ that don't legitimately represent workers, noted Neumann.
He further explained that it is common for foreign companies to sign agreements with Mexican protection unions – even before the company begins operating – without the input or knowledge of affected workers.
“Even long after they've been hired, workers often have no idea they belong to a union,” Neumann said.
Such employer protection contracts are illegal in Canada and the US because they violate the most basic rights of citizens, however, they remain common in Mexico despite a recent reform of the Mexican Constitution that is supposed to outlaw such corrupt practices.
“In the case of Torex Gold's Media Luna mine, the company struck a deal with Mexico's largest confederation of protection unions, the Confederación de Trabajadores de México.
However, in early November, workers at the mine went on strike to demand their rights to join a legitimate, democratic union that will defend their interests.
“They demanded the right to a vote to join a legitimate, democratic union – the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, known as Los Mineros.”
The striking Media Luna miners are supported by local communities, which also have raised troubling issues regarding the impact of the Torex operations.
"In view of the violence, the Mexican authorities and the company must immediately recognise Los Mineros as the legitimate bargaining agent and representative of these workers," he noted.