Mexico: Cananea strike now legal

On April 28 Mexico’s Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA) ruled in favor of a nine-month old strike at Grupo Mexico’s giant copper mine at Cananea, in the northwestern state of Sonora. The ruling, which is final, makes the job action legal. Previously the JFCA had ruled against the strike—which was started by the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMRM) over safety issues on July 30—and the government sent troops to the mine in January. Grupo Mexico must now end the partial operations it was carrying out at the mine. (La Jornada, April 29) On April 24 the company had threatened to close the facility, as it is reportedly doing in the San Martin mine in Zacatecas. (Mexican Labor News and Analysis, April 2008)

Despite labor’s apparent victory at Cananea, Mexico’s union movement is “pulverized” through lack of unity, Autonomous National University of Mexico Workers Union (STUNAM) leader Agustin Rodriguez told the daily La Jornada during May 1 celebrations in Mexico City. The unions held three separate marches in the capital, the largest by the National Workers Union (UNT), the main independent labor federation. Under the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the federal government sponsored the May Day marches, and tens of thousands of workers would carry signs reading: “Thank you, Mr. President.” The government of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), did not sponsor the May 1 events. The evening before, Labor Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcón held a meeting with union leaders; after shaking their hands he reportedly wiped his own hands with antibacterial cream. (LJ, May 2)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 25

See our last posts on Mexico and the labor struggle.