On 30 July, it was 12 years since the strikes began in three mines run by Grupo Mexico, in Taxco, Cananea and Sombrerete. Back in 2007, some 3,000 workers took action against Grupo Mexico after the company refused to amend their collective agreement or to improve health and safety conditions at the three mines.
One of the union’s demands was payment of profits for the period from January to July 2007. Grupo Mexico had said that it would only make the payment if workers agreed to take it as severance pay or to leave Los Mineros.
But on 2 August 2019, Grupo Mexico finally made the payments. In Mexico, profit sharing is a constitutional right, with companies required to pay their workers a percentage of earnings.
Los Mineros president Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, who is also a Mexican senator and IndustriALL’s co-president for Latin America and the Caribbean, has called the payment, which came after a lengthy legal battle, a major victory for workers and for union representation.
Workers at the three mines are continuing their strike action in the hope of finding solutions to other unresolved issues. They are calling on Grupo Mexico to put in place adequate health and safety measures, as there have been repeated incidents over the years.
One of the worst incidents was the industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos on 19 February 2006, in which 65 workers lost their lives. And on 6 August 2014, a spill caused 40 million litres of copper sulphate acid to run into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, resulting in an environmental disaster that seriously affected the health of local communities.
The most recent incident, on 9 July 2019, occurred at a port in Sonora State, in north-east Mexico, with 3,000 litres of sulphuric acid ending up in the Gulf of California.
At a press conference, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced that he would summon Los Mineros and Grupo Mexico for a round of negotiations in order to find an agreement over the strikes. He also said that a full enquiry would be held into the 2014 and 2019 spills and those responsible would be punished.
IndustriALL’s regional secretary, Marino Vani, said:
“We wish to congratulate Los Mineros, the workers and their families. Persevering in a battle is the only way to achieve victory and dignity. And your struggle is a true example of teamwork and integrity. We hope that Grupo Mexico will show respect for its workers and help to find solutions to this injustice by engaging in dialogue and negotiation in order to reach a fair agreement for the workers.”
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