The Authentic Labor Front (FAT), an independent Mexican labor group, announced on May 13 that one of its affiliates is set to declare a strike at the Central de Abasto, Mexico City’s huge wholesale food market, on May 30. For the past four years the affiliate—the Union of Workers of Commercial Buildings, Offices and Stores, and the Like and Related (STRACC)—has represented 41 workers who clean bathrooms in the flowers and vegetables area of the giant facility, which is operated by the Federal District (DF) government. The workers are mostly women, and several are older or have disabilities.
Recently the Central de Abasto’s management contracted the bathroom maintenance out to a small new private company, Operadora Comercial SAFE, SA de CV (OESSA). This company claims it is subcontracting the work to another company, Great Limp, which it says already has a union. On April 29 OESSA management took the STRACC workers offsite and attempted by pressure and false pretenses to have them sign letters of resignation. Management got 14 to sign before the workers could contact union officials; after that the rest refused. The union members continued to work until May 6, when management appeared with a group of judicial and auxiliary police and arrested the workers, some of whom were injured in the operation. The police held them for 14 hours, supposedly for “illegal exercise of particular rights,” which can carry a sentence of three months to one year in prison. Since then the STRACC members have not been allowed to work.
The Campaign for Labor Rights (CLR) is asking for letters to Marcelo Ebrard (email@example.com), head of the DF government, which has been controlled by the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) for the last 11 years. A sample letter is available at:
(La Jornada, May 7, 10; Excelsior, May 13 from Notimex; CLR urgent action, May 14)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 18