Mexico’s Los Mineros —  the National Miners and Metalworkers Union — has been on strike in the town of Cananea for three years against the country’s largest mining company, Grupo Mexico.  June 6, a massive police action overwhelmed the strikers.  According to media reports, the action was ordered by President Felipe Calderon.  Here is a report from Ben Davis of the AFL CIO Solidarity Centre, based in Mexico City:

At about 10 p.m. on Sunday night, a force of approximately 2,000 Federal Preventive Police entered the town of Cananea (some news reports say 4,000).  Some 400 police approached the mine gates and fired tear gas at the union members who were defending them.  At some point a fire was set in the administrative building adjacent to the gate.

The police then fired tear gas into the union office, forcing the workers inside to flee through a side door. The union office is now under government control.

There were reports of two Mineros wounded and possibly killed, although no names have been reported. The union reported that three workers had gunshot or projectile wounds in a bulletin, others had been beaten or were suffering effects of the tear gas.

Federal warrants were issued for union leaders including Sergio Tolano Lizárraga, General Secretary of Minerso Section 65, Juan Gutiérrez Ballesteros, Sonora delegate of the National Executive Committee, and Jacinto Martínez, a member of the local executive committee. Last night Tolano won an injunction against his arrest warrant.

Federal police arrested five Mineros: Rodolfo Valdez Serrano, Everardo Ochoa Ballesteros, Luis Alonso Borbón Pérez, Luis Alonso Torres y Marcelo Lara López.

On Monday, the Governor of Sonora, the Executive President of Grupo Mexico, and Labor Secretary Javier Lozano held a press conference to announce a $5 billion infrastructure project in Cananea.  The company also offered to liquidate the striking workers in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement (approximately six times the legally required amount) provided the workers accept the money by this Friday. The union has said workers will refuse the severance offer as their strike is still legally existent.


Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson is the assistant to the President of Unifor.