Norway Pressured to Divest Holdings in Grupo Mexico

Two global trade union federations, together with four Norwegian unions, have asked the Council on Ethics of the Government Pension Fund of Norway to divest its holdings in the Mexican mining conglomerate Grupo Mexico because of alleged labor, human rights and environmental violations.

The Council on Ethics oversees responsible investments of the Government Pension Fund, the second largest pension fund in the world.

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) and the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) sent a letter requesting the divestment of Grupo Mexico and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Southern Copper. The company is accused of labor rights violations against the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM or Los Mineros), environmental destruction and shareholder fraud.

“The illegal practices of Grupo Mexico, unfortunately supported by a corrupt Mexican government, include seizing the union’s assets, attempting to replace the legitimate union with one selected by the company, and launching a protracted campaign of repression against the union’s leadership,” says IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina.

The company is accused of gross health and safety violations at the Pasta de Conchos mine, where 65 workers died in an explosion in 2006, and the copper mine at Cananea, where workers have been on strike since July 2007. And, studies of Grupo Mexico smelter operations in Mexico illuminate the company’s shameful environmental record where abnormal levels of toxic minerals such as lead, zinc, copper, cadmium, mercury and magnesium were found among the general populations, including high levels of arsenic and cadmium among children.

Los Mineros is affiliated with the IMF, which covers over 200 trade unions in 100 countries.  IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger serves as the IMF’s Vice-President and is a member of its Executive Committee. For more information about the attacks, click here.