Mexico: labor struggles escalate

The 9,500 workers at Volkswagen’s giant plant in the state of Puebla went on strike Aug. 18 after rejecting the company’s offer of a 4.5% pay raise coupled with demands for increased “labor flexibility.” Talks remained stalled on Aug. 19, but the workers reportedly expected the strike not to last more than 72 hours, as was the case in 2004.

Meanwhile, the federal government is continuing its efforts to end strikes that broke out after the government’s removal in February of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia from his position as general secretary of the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMRM). On July 12 the federal labor board gave Grupo Mexico permission to close down its huge Nacozari copper mine near the US border in the northwestern state of Sonora. The 1,400 miners went on strike on March 24. In its July 12 ruling the board declared the strike illegal, which means that the company can fire all the workers and replace them or rehire them without seniority or a union contract. On the day of the board’s ruling was announced, Sonora governor Bours Castelo issued arrest warrants for 21 of the strikers. (David Bacon on, Aug. 7)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 20

See our last posts on Mexico, Puebla and the new industrial labor militancy.

  1. Update
    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 3:

    After a five-day strike, on Aug. 23 Volkswagen signed an agreement with the union at its huge plant in the central state of Puebla, giving the workers a 4% pay raise and a 1.5% increase in benefits. The settlement was less than half the union’s original demand, but more than the company’s offer of a 4.5% increase for pay and benefits together coupled with demands for “labor flexibility.”