Mexico: courts rule for miners, against electrical workers

In a full session on July 5, Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruled against a suit by the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) challenging President Felipe Calder贸n Hinojosa’s sudden liquidation of the state-owned Central Light and Power Company (LFC) last October. The union had argued that the liquidation, which resulted in the layoffs of 44,000 electrical workers, was unconstitutional and violated Convention 87 of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The SCJN did rule in favor of the union’s representation claim: the SME will continue to represent the LFC’s retirees and laid-off workers and can act in their name in the courts and the labor boards. (La Jornada, Mexico, July 6; Mexico Labor News and Analysis, July 2010)

On July 9 a panel of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) threw out corruption charges against Napole贸n G贸mez Urrutia, general secretary of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM), and cancelled a warrant for his arrest. The DF was the fourth major Mexican entity to drop charges against G贸mez Urrutia since the federal government tried to remove him as union head in 2006; the other three are the states of Sonora, Nuevo Le贸n and San Luis Potos铆. Leo Gerard, president of the North American-based United Steelworkers (USW), hailed the decision on July 16. The Mexican government “continues to use every device it can to persecute the leadership of an independent and autonomous trade union that stands up for Mexican workers,” he said. (LJ, July 12; MLNA, July 2010) The USW signed an agreement with the SNTMMSRM on June 21 to explore the possibility of a merger. (, June 28)

On July 13 the M茅xico state Attorney General’s Office announced that a state court had cancelled the arrest warrant for campesino activist Am茅rica del Valle, who had taken refuge in the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico City. The SCJN ordered the release of Del Valle’s father, Ignacio del Valle, and 11 other members of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT) two weeks earlier, overturning long prison sentences stemming from a confrontation with police in San Salvador Atenco in May 2006. Am茅rica del Valle’s arrest warrant was based on the same charges. (Latin American Herald Tribune, July 13 from EFE)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 18.

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