On Feb. 4, a group of former employees of the Finland-based Nokia company protested outside offices of the federal labor board. The company has not paid the severance packages which are required by Mexican law to a group of 1000 workers dismissed by Nokia last November.
Nokia has two plants in Reynosa, in the northern Mexico maquiladora area. In recent years, Nokia reduced their workforce in the US and has been moving the work to Mexico. The Alliance Corridor Factory in the Ft. Worth area was formerly the largest mobile phone factory in the world.
New workers for the Reynosa plants are usually hired through the Adecco and Manpower agencies. When Nokia dismissed over 1000 workers in November, Manpower and Adecco offered less than 2,000 pesos severance pay to these workers. 53 of them refused to accept this amount, among whom seven pregnant women.
A former employee explained how she was fired:
“At the end of our shift we were taken aside to a meeting room, where we were informed that we were the chosen ones for the staff cut, so we had to sign a ‘voluntary’ resignation form. They told us ‘if you don’t sign, we are going to include you in the blacklist and nobody is going to hire you”.
53 of the workers, (the same who did not take the severance pay) did not accept their dismissal. On December 14, the group wrote a letter to Nokia, directly addressing CSR managers Anne Klementi and Pekka Isosomppi. The letter describes in detail how representatives of Manpower and Adecco, using rude and threatening language, made the group sign ‘voluntary’ resignation forms and forced them to ‘accept’ an undisclosed sum for severance pay.
The workers pointed out that Nokia is responsible for hiring and firing.
The workers are demanding that Nokia create more permanent jobs in the factory.
They also made a list of other demands:
* fair severance pay;
* medical coverage for the pregnant women;
* payment of maternity leave.
After this group took action, some other workers have come forward to take action.
Nokia claims that it will "investigate", but this does not solve the problems of temporary labour.
There is a union at the factory, but CILAS (Centro de Investigación Laboral y Asesoria Sindical), which studied the labour situation in Reynosa pointed out that it is a yellow union, with the leaders of the union appointed by the company itself. The workers have no involvement in the union affairs and no imput in labour agreements. Nokia even admitted the findings of the CILAS report.
The study also found that the workers from the agencies earn less money than those employed through Nokia even if they are doing identical work.