A victory for striking miners in Cananea as a judicial panel ruled their six month strike legal. This reversed an earlier ruling in January which had led to brutal attacks by the police.
On February 14 the Mexican Consejo de la Judicatura Federal reversed an earlier ruling, declaring that the six-plus month strike of unionized workers in Cananea, Sonora may continue.
The panel had previously ruled on January 11, 2008 that the strike was illegal, due to a technicality. This ruling lead to a brutal attack by Mexican federal police later that same day.
Cananea, a city about 30 miles south of the Arizona border, has been the site of numerous historic labor battles. Workers at the Cananea Copper mine, owned by Grupo Mexico, S.A. (who also own Asarco in the U.S.) have been on strike since July 31. The mine has refused to negotiate with the workers' union.
While the newest ruling does not bring an end to the strike, it does give the workers a stronger hand as they move forward against Grupo Mexico, who refuse to address occupational safety concerns or respect the workers' collective agreement.
Ever since January 11 Cananea has been a city under siege, with thousands of federal officers guarding the entrance to the mine and preventing workers from resuming their pickets. The mine has been operating with scab labor ever since.
On January 16 thousands of workers at more than 85 mines and factories across Mexico walked out in solidarity with the Cananea strike. Solidarity actions have taken place as far away as New York City and Peru. The United Steelworkers in the U.S., among other organizations, have for months been organizing to support the striking Cananea mineworkers. The resistance of Grupo Mexico to negotiation has been seen by many as an attack against the independent union movement across Mexico. Other mine strikes continue in the Mexican state of Zacatecas and the silver mining town of Taxco.
Click here to see an animated video explaining the Cananea workers' struggle.
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