Mexico Seizes Power Utility, Replaces 40,000 Workers

Up to 100,000 workers and supporters are expected at a mass demonstration this week in Mexico City to protest a decision by Mexican President Felipe Calderón to seize control of Luz Y Fuerza, the publicly-owned electric utility. Calderón also ordered the firing of all employees, dissolved their union and replaced them with workers brought in from another utility.

The Mexican government claims the company, which has about 40,000 employees and 25 million customers, and is managed by the government’s own appointees, was “inefficient.”

“If efficiency is the issue, you start by firing the managers you had hired, not the guys who climb the poles and hook up the lines,” explained Economic Policy Institute founder Jeff Faux. “It was as if the US government, without warning or much legal authority, had suddenly sent thousands of National Guard troops to take over the Tennessee Valley Authority and replace its workers with people from Duke Power on the grounds that the TVA had run a deficit.”

At the heart of the dispute, according to Faux, is a systematic campaign by the Mexican plutocracy to destroy any efforts to establish independent trade unions that might represent employees’, rather than employers’ interests.

“The obvious motive here was not efficiency; it was to break the electrical workers union,” said Faux. “In the months leading up to the seizure, the Mexican government had arbitrarily nullified the re-election of the union’s president, frozen the union’s assets and tried to impose its own candidate as leader.”

Click here to read full text of the article by Jeff Faux, which also highlights the role NAFTA is playing in the war on Mexico’s labor unions.