Mexico: miners strike against government interference

Miners in Mexico launched an unlimited wildcat strike on Wednesday last week.

Submitted by jef costello on June 6, 2007

They are calling for the restoration of the head of the Mining and Metal Workers Union, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, and for improved safety conditions after an accident at a Grupo Mexico mine left 65 of their colleagues dead.

Last Tuesday workers at Mexico's two largest copper mines, La Caridad and Canarea went on strike as did workers at a zinc mine and zinc production plant, all owned by Grupo Mexico.

The general miners' strike was launched last Wednesday, observance appears to be high with many mines reporting stoppages and shutting down, it is unclear how long this will continue.

Gomez Urrutia was removed from his position on February 17th. It was claimed that the government was bowing to pressure from Grupo Mexico, one of Mexico's largest mining companies. The launching of a general strike has caused conflict between the companies, Altos Hornos de Mexico, Mexico's largest steel-maker, spoke out against the interference, taking out a full-page advertisement calling for an end to chaos and conflict.

Gomez Urrutia has been criticised for his reaction to the mining accident that left 65 miners dead, with some claiming he lost his position as a result. However the accident took place on the 19th of February, meaning that his reacton to it could not have caused his removal. There is certainly an internal power struggle within the union and the government has backed the challenger Elias Morales.

Last year Grupo Mexico fired 2000 workers after a four-month wildcat strike, the company made heavy losses and was eventually forced to rehire many of the same workers.