Factory workers in San Luis Potosí in northern Mexico have been threatened by their bosses with the closure of their factory if they don't renounce their elected independent union in favour of the bosses' union.
The threat from Grupo Modelo in the Industrial Vidriera Potosí factory comes not long after the firing of over 250 workers for being involved with the activities of Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Empresa IVP (SUTEIVP). SUTEIVP won union elections and recognition in 2007 against the charrista, state-affiliated Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC) and are now headed by one Valentín Marín.
The threat comes on the back of the closure of the Grupo Navarra garment factory in Tehuacán, Puebla, also for the election of an independent union.
Curiously enough, the actual wording of the statement by Grupo Modelo - who manufacture a variety of beers, the most internationally famous being Corona - does not mention SUTEIVP, instead threatening factory closure if support is given to "an executive committe headed by Marín" himself, leading to various questions: to what extent is Modelo's beef with the independent union, as opposed to the individual union bureaucrat? Are Modelo and/or CROC optimistic about recuperating a possible post-Marín SUTEIVP?
As for the SUTEIVP, its protest encampment of the fired workers outside the factory gates still lacks legal recognition as a strike, although SUTEIVP members who managed to retain their jobs have been granted legal recourse to strike in the future, currently a very real option in the heightening tension. SUTEIVP have rather played down strike talk however, while admittedly it could happen imminently, claiming (rather bizarrely) a cease in production would accelerate the plant closure. Apparently, their priority is "defending our source of employment, our wage rises and contractural improvements".
Since when it was the business of workers to mediate with menacing union-busting tactics is unclear. Also unclear is the fortitude of the still employed SUTEIVP members to maintain a strike, especially with the continued hostility of the local labour arbritration organism, the Junta Federal de Conciliación y Arbitraje (JFCyA), which is also state-affiliated and runs in the same circles as the displaced CROC charros (corrupt leaders). In Mexico, a strike without legal recognition in practical terms spells impunity for sackings by bosses, assaults by police and kidnappings and disappearances by private gangs.
The role of SUTEIVP (more particularly, Marín) in this escalating conflict is still open to inspection.
Pro-SUTEIVP propaganda video (in Spanish): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-A1ekSYKww