Mexican Court Rules Against Striking Miners

A Mexican appeals court issued an order that allows the Grupo Mexico mining company to terminate the employment and dissolve the union contract for nearly 1,200 members of the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers (SNTMMSRM) at the massive Cananea copper mine.

The miners at the Cananea mine have been on strike since July 2007 over dangerous working conditions and efforts by the company to have union leaders arrested. Grupo Mexico officials recently requested the Mexican army enter the mine site to remove dangerous explosives, a charge the union rejected.

In the court proceedings, the mining company claimed it had a right to fire the striking workers because the strike had allegedly left the facilities inoperable.  However, no evidence of inoperability was ever presented to the courts; indeed, the mine remains operable to this day. The case represents the first time that inoperability was cited as the basis to fire striking workers in Mexico.

The move to crush one of the few remaining independent labor unions in Mexico was condemned by labor leaders around the world.

‘This attack on mine workers in Mexico deserves the full attention of unions in the United States and labor federations around the world,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “The fight for fundamental human rights must address violations wherever they take place, regardless of national borders.”

The AFL-CIO also reacted immediately to the court decision in Mexico.

“We condemn the threats of the Mexican government to repress the democratic and independent union movement in this and other current cases,” said AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka in a statement. “Such attacks on the trade union movement thoroughly undercut the promise made years ago to US, Mexican and Canadian workers under the NAALC ( North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, a NAFTA side agreement) that fundamental workers’ rights would be fully respected in North America.”