In Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, UFCW Canada and AWA activists joined other labour allies to protest the Mexican federal government’s attack against the union movement and workers’ rights in that country. The Canadian protests were part of a worldwide series of protests held in 30 countries in February.
In addition to the protests, UFCW Canada was also part of a delegation that met directly with Mexico consular and embassy officials in Toronto and Ottawa. “The Mexico federal government has been put on notice that their repression of workers’ rights must not continue,” says national president Wayne Hanley. “Its brutal campaign against workers and their leaders is despotic and disgraceful.”
The protests and meetings coincided with the fifth anniversary of an explosion that killed 65 miners at a Mexico coal mine owned by the politically connected company Grupo Mexico. The victims were members of the Mexican union Los Mineros. Since 2006 its members and leadership have been targets of persecution, and of picket line attacks by police and federal forces at mines owned by Grupo Mexico. In April 2006, two workers were killed and dozens injured when federal forces fired on striking workers at a steel mill. Last summer, thousands of troops descended on strikers at a mine in Cananea, seizing control of the facility and jailing dozens of workers.
Meanwhile, in 2009, the Mexican government dissolved the democratically elected union at the public electrical utility and fired 40,000 workers. And the union representing workers at the state-owned oil company PemEx has also been targeted, with top leadership forced out by the government.
“The Mexican government’s attack on human and labour rights should not go unnoticed by our own leaders,” says President Hanley. “The Harper government has trade sanctions against brutal regimes. Does its Free Trade deal with Mexico give its partner immunity for acts of violence, shootings and the repression of workplace democracy and human rights?”
Vol. XI No. 10 • March 7, 2011