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Mexico’s abuse of workers’ rights highlighted as state...

Mexico’s abuse of workers’ rights highlighted as state visit looms

27 February 2015

The lamentable way that the Mexican government rides roughshod over workers’ rights will be highlighted when the country’s president, Peña Nieto, makes a state visit to Britain next week.

The focus of the protest will be the simultaneous visit of Napoleón Gomez, the president of Los Mineros, the miners’ union which has been continually persecuted by the authorities. It has seen its officials wrongfully imprisoned and four union members murdered since 2006.

Napoleón Gomez – who has led the union from exile in Canada since 2006, following death threats – will meet MPs at the House of Commons at 17.00 on Monday 2 March. There is also a planned Early Day Motion (EDM) allowing MPs to register their concerns. 

The meeting comes at a time when the UK and Mexico are seeking to boost bilateral trade and increase the number of British visitors to the country to 500,000 per year.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Los Mineros has been targeted by the Mexican government in a disgusting fashion and many officials have been wrongfully imprisoned, with four union members murdered since 2006.

“Napoleon’s case and the rights of Mexican workers are not very well known. We hope his visit will raise the profile of what is happening in Mexico, where the rights of workers are being trampled on.

“The union has organised thousands of new workers in mining and manufacturing industries, challenging Mexico’s corrupt system of employer-dominated ‘protection unions’.

“Because these actions threatened Mexico’s export-driven, low-wage model, the Mexican government has targeted Los Mineros in a massive campaign of persecution, including refusing to recognise union election results.

“Unite stands in solidarity with our Mexican colleagues and calls on the British government to put pressure on president Nieto to clean up his government’s act and start to respect the employment rights of its own citizens.”

ENDS

Notes to editors: 

  • For further information or an interview request please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Background notes: 

  • Napoleón Gomez is due to be in London from 1-8 March to coincide with the state visit of Peña Nieto to the UK between 3- 5 March.
  • While in Canada, the Mexican government tried to intimidate Napoleón Gomez by obtaining a red notice from Interpol – which twice dismissed the application as politically motivated. Then in August 2014 a Mexican appeals court issued a definitive ruling quashing the criminal charges against Gomez.
  • Los Mineros has built strong ties of solidarity with unions around the world.  In 2005, it formed a strategic alliance with the United Steelworkers, which joined with Unite in 2008 to form Workers Uniting.  
  • Over the past 10 years, Los Mineros has won wage increases averaging over eight per cent per year in comparison with a four per cent national average, hence the impetus for government persecution.  
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.