Mexico: maquila union threatened

Workers at the Mexmode garment factory in Atlixco municipality in the central Mexican state of Puebla report that the state and local governments are maneuvering to destroy the Independent Union of Mexmode Company Workers (SITEMEX), one of the few independent unions in Mexico’s maquiladoras (tax-exempt assembly plants producing for export). The workers say Antorcha Campesina (“Campesino Torch”)—an organization linked to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governs the state—has taken hold in the factory and is threatening and intimidating the union leadership. Atlixco director of culture Maritona Espejel has been photographed distributing fliers outside the plant; she reportedly called on workers to lynch a group of observers during a work stoppage.

On June 18 state labor officials announced they would call a meeting of workers to hold an election between current SITEMEX president Josefina Hernandez and someone from Antorcha Campesina’s union. Workers say this action is illegal under Mexican law, which establishes union autonomy and prohibits the government from interfering in the internal affairs of unions. The Chicago-based labor solidarity group USLEAP is calling for letters to the Puebla government protesting this situation; to send a letter, go to:

(Campaign for Labor Rights alert, June 18)

Workers at Mexmode, formerly the Korean-owned Kukdong Internacional SA de CV, formed SITEMEX after a nine-month struggle, which was supported by student and labor groups in Canada, Korea and the US.

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 22

See our last posts on Mexico and the labor struggle.