Mexico: unions threaten general strike

On Feb. 14 a group of Mexican unions announced their intention to hold a general strike in 25 of the country’s 32 states on March 16 if the government attempts to remove striking workers from the giant Cananea copper mine in Sonora state. Some 1,400 workers in Section 65 of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM) have maintained a strike at the facility—which is owned by the powerful Grupo México—since July 30, 2007.

Mexico’s Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JFCA) declared the strike illegal last April, but a judge issued a temporary injunction suspending the JFCA decision. On Feb. 11 this year, the First Circuit’s Second Collegiate Labor Tribunal upheld the original JFCA decision, opening the way for Grupo México to fire all the workers and have the police seize the mine.

The SNTMMSRM is backed by unions in the independent National Workers Union (UNT), including the Telephone Workers Union of the Mexican Republic (STRM). The Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), representing some 44,000 Mexico City area electrical workers who were suddenly laid off last October, has allied itself closely with the Section 65 strikers. The SME has called for “widespread civil disobedience” along with the general strike as an “overwhelming response to the federal government and its policies.” (El Universal, La Jornada, Prensa Latina, Feb. 14)

See our last posts on Mexico and the labor struggle

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 14