New Zealand unions protest Mexican government’s use of force against striking workers

Representatives of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) delivered a letter to the acting Mexican Ambassador on Wednesday 30 June 2010 expressing deep concern at the Mexican government’s use of force against striking workers in the National Miners’ and Metalworkers Union of Mexico (Los Mineros).

The letter condemns the assault by heavily armed riot police on striking members of Los Mineros at the Cananea copper mine in Mexico earlier this month.

On 6 June hundreds of Mexican riot police surrounded the mine and used tear gas to dislodge workers who were occupying the entrances and to assault the union office. More than 1000 members of Los Mineros were on strike over a long-running dispute with the company, Grupo Mexico, over health and safety and other contract violations.

Los Mineros reported that three workers received gunshot or projectile wounds, and others had been beaten or were suffering from the effects of the tear gas.

The letter urges the Mexican government to allow the elected leader of the union, Napoleón Gómez, to return to Mexico from exile in Canada and resume his position.

The acting Mexican Ambassador Luis Enrique Franco gave an assurance he would convey to his government the deep concerns of the New Zealand trade union movement over the Mexican government’s treatment of the workers involved.

“We urge the Mexican government to allow the safe return of Napoleón Gómez, the elected leader of the National Miners’ and Metalworkers Union of Mexico, so he can resume his duties without fear of reprisal,” says the EPMU’s senior national industrial officer Paul Tolich.

“The Mexican government needs to honour its commitments as a member of the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) and guarantee freedom of association for all Mexican workers,” says MUNZ general secretary Joe Fleetwood.

The ILO has backed Los Mineros in the dispute saying that the Mexican government has acted in a way that is incompatible with ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association.

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