Mexico: miners strike, teachers march

Thousands of members of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMRM) participated in an eight-hour national strike on Jan. 16 in support of workers at Grupo Mexico’s giant copper mine at Cananea, in the northwestern state of Sonora. Police and soldiers had forcibly removed strikers from the mine on Jan. 12, one day after the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA) ruled that the miners’ five-month-old strike over safety conditions was illegal under Mexican labor law. The union won a temporary injunction on Jan. 12 allowing the strike to continue, but unofficial sources reported that the Sixth District Labor Court would probably terminate the injunction. Grupo Mexico insisted that at least 400 of the 1,300 workers had returned to the mine.

According to the SNTMMRM, some 25,000 workers joined the Jan. 16 national strike, shutting down 85 mines and metal factories; participants included 2,000 miners in the southern state of Guerrero and employees of the Siderurgica Lazaro Cardenas-Las Truchas, SA (Sicartsa) steel plant, who marched in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan. Also on strike were 350 workers at the Minera Maple mine in Naica, Chihuahua; they had gone out the day before around local wage demands. However, Labor Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcon said only 33% of the union’s 33,581 members participated in the national, and Grupo Mexico insisted its facilities were functioning normally. Grupo Mexico’s stocks fell 7.33% on Mexico City’s Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV) on Jan. 16; the other major Mexican mining company, Industrias Penoles, which owns the Naica mine, saw its stock go down by 7.80% the same day. (La Jornada, Jan. 14, 16, 17)

On Jan. 18 some 20,000 teachers in the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), a rank-and-file caucus in the massive National Education Workers Union (SNTE), marched from the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City to the Federal Palace of Justice to protest changes to Social Security for public workers. Teachers from Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacan, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Zacatecas, Mexico state, the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), Chiapas and Guerrero participated. “She’s going to fall, she’s going to fall, that thief Elba Esther!” the dissident teachers chanted, referring to their belief that SNTE head Elba Esther Gordillo is collaborating with Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, of the center-right National Action Party (PAN). At the Palace of Justice, they presented thousands of legal complaints against the new rules and threatened to start a national strike. (LJ, Jan. 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 20

See our last posts on Mexico and the labor struggle.