By Dan La Botz
More than a quarter of a million miners and steelworkers walked off the job between 1-3 March in wildcat strikes at 70 companies in Mexico, virtually paralyzing the mining industry. While the strike has ended, there are reasons to believe that this could be the first act that could challenge Mexican employers, the corrupt “official” unions, and the conservative Mexican government.
The strike resulted from an attempt by the government to remove the Mexican Miners’ Union’s top officer, general secretary Napleón Gómez Urrutia, and replace him with Elías Morales Hernández, a union dissident who is reportedly backed by the Grupo Mexico mining company. The coup d’état in their union led miners to strike insisting that the government recognize Gómez Urrutia. In many mining towns and cities they also marched and rallied demanding not only the restitution of their leader but also safer conditions. The wildcat strike erupted little more than a week after a mining accident on February 19 in San Juan de las Sabinas that left 65 dead.
The miners’ wildcat strike, by members of the National Union of Mining and Metallurgical Workers of Mexico (SNTMMRM), represents one of the largest industrial actions in recent Mexican history, an event with few precedents since the workers insurgency late 1960s and early 1970s. While the strike has ended, at least temporarily, it has shaken the mining industry, the union establishment and the government, and it could reignite and possibly spread to other sectors of the labour movement, possibly shaking the entire society.
Abridged from Mexico Labor News and Analysis http://www.ueinternational.org/Mexico_info/mlna_articles.php?id=99