Article from Mexican Labor News & Analysis
Published by UE International.

Date published: March 2016

Web version: http://www.ueinternational.org/Mexico_info/mlna_articles.php?id=242#1811

MINERS & METALWORKERS UNION WINS VICTORY AT ARCELORMITTAL

By Dan La Botz

IN THIS ISSUE:
*Miners & Metalworkers Union Wins Victory at ArcelorMittal
* Court Orders Mexico to Pay Braceros US$340 Million
*Secretary of Education and Teachers in Guerrilla War
*PEMEX Layoffs and Payoffs
*Concern: Repression of Social Movement & Human Rights Activists
*New Guerrilla Group Appears in Michoacán: Clandestine and Armed
*International Women’s Day
*Labor Shorts

In what is a rare victory indeed for Mexican workers, the 3,500 members of Local 271 of the National Union of Miners and Metalworkers of Mexico (SNTMMRM) carried out a strike, as well as a blockade and partial take-over of the ArecelorMittal steel mill in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán—a strike that was declared illegal but which forced the company, the world’s largest steelmaker, to give in to the union’s demands.

Since an illegal strike, such a peaceful process through negotiation, and such a victorious outcome for the union are virtually unknown in Mexico, especially when the independent-minded leadership of the Miners and Metalworkers is involved. One finds it hard to believe that the strike has been settled so reasonably, leaving us to wonder if the company or the government is not planning to take some action against the union.

Strike Eight Months in the Making

The workers had first given strike notification on June 18, 2015, but had postponed the strike 16 times in order to carry out discussions with the company. Then ArcelorMittal announced in November of 2015 that it planned to layoff 2,500 workers, aggravating the situation. The union formally struck over the layoff of more than 500 workers last year and to demand a revision of their collective bargaining agreement.

Though the Secretary of Labor, Alfonso Navarrete Prida had declared the strike illegal, he surprisingly brought the company and the union together to negotiate. The negotiations concluded with ArecelorMittal agreeing to pay the workers’ lost wages during the weeklong strike, to arrange for the voluntary retirement of 81 union workers, paying each an additional 100,000 peso severance bonus, and for the relocation of an additional 125 workers. The company also promised that there would be no reprisals against members of the union executive board.

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