Reprinted from ILC International Newsletter No. 316, Dec. 17, 2008
The National Union of Mineworkers, Steelworkers, Steelmakers and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSSRM) is being subjected to fierce repression by the fraudulent government of Felipe Calderon and by the Grupo México, the mining monopoly that seeks to destroy the union. What is the mineworkers" crime? It"s defending the right of workers to decide who their leaders should be without government interference; it"s defending their collective-bargaining agreement.
On December 4, Carlos Pavon Campos, Secretary for Political Affairs of the mineworkers" union, was arrested in Mexico City. He was immediately transferred to the city of Monclova in the state of Coahuila (in the north), on charges of alleged fraud. The day before, Juan Linares Montufar, president of the union"s Main Committee of Vigilance, was transferred to Mexico City. Linares Montufar had been arrested in the city of Morelia in the state of Michoacan.
A few weeks earlier, the government "froze" the bank accounts of the union. On December 9, a judge ruled "Illegal and non-existent" the mineworkers" strike in Cananea, Sonora. Those workers, together with mineworkers in Sombrerete and Taxco have been on strike for over a year to defend their working conditions and the existence of their union. Grupo Mexico has simply refused to negotiate with the union. Today [Dec. 13] the media report that 50 mineworkers in Cananea were issued arrest warrants.
The crackdown against the union began under the Fox administration (2000-2006) through the creation of "white [scab] unions" in opposition the National Union of Mineworkers. Legal charges were brought against Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, president of the union, who was forced to seek political asylum in Canada. The crackdown has intensified under the government of Felipe Calderon and has reached a level of absolute arbitrary force, outside legal norms, with the appointment by the government of Francisco Gomez Mont Urrueta, a man who had previously been the legal assessor of Grupo México, that is, the very company set on destroying the union.
The government aims to break the will of those fighting to defend the freedom of association and workers" conquests. The government does not tolerate the union"s demand that the circumstances of the deaths in the Pasta de Conchos mine (in the state of Coahuila) be clarified and the union"s demand for the recovery of the bodies (still buried deep underground) of the deceased workers in this mine.
All these repressive actions taken against the mineworkers" union are an indicator of what the government is preparing with the labor counter-reform it seeks to impose in 2009 (as announced by the Secretary of Labor). This new law aims to eliminate labor rights, to exert even greater pressure on the unions to impose individual and test contracts and to facilitate lay-offs.
The defense of the Mexican mineworkers" union requires the support of mineworkers and of all unions and union activists the world over. An urgent solidarity response is needed on an international with these embattled mineworkers.
We urge you to demand of the Mexican government:
* The immediate release of Carlos Pavon Campos and Juan Linares Montufar, leaders of the Union of mineworkers.
* The withdrawal of all arrest warrants against mineworkers in Cananea.
* The return of the bank accounts of the union.
* The strict observance of union autonomy and independence
* No to government interference in the internal affairs of the union
* Observance of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
Please send your petitions to:
LIC. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa,
Official Residence de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, CP 11850, Distrito Federal, MÉXICO
Telephone and fax: (55) 50935300
LIC. FERNANDO Francisco Gomez MONT Urueta
Bucareli 99, 1er piso Colonia Juarez CP 06699 México DF,
Fax: (00 52) 5 55 546 5350, (00 52) 5 55 546 7388
DR. José Luis Soberanes Fernández
PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
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