TORONTO, July 5, 2012 /CNW/ - North American labour and civil society
groups will be watching closely today to see if Canadian mining company
Excellon Resources allows workers at its silver mine in Mexico to have
a free and democratic vote to join a union.
Workers at Excellon's La Platosa Mine in Durango, Mexico are voting
today to select a union to represent them and administer a collective
bargaining agreement with Excellon subsidiary Servicios Mineros San
Pedro S.A. de C.V.
The vote takes place within a context of systematic labour and human
rights violations affecting the La Platosa Mine workers and the
Since they affiliated to Mexico's National Union of Mine, Metal and
Steelworkers (Los Mineros) in 2010, the workers have suffered
oppression, intimidation and unfair dismissals intended to stop the
organizing process and prevent true union representation that would
defend their rights.
The La Platosa workers are supported by Canadian unions, including the
United Steelworkers (USW) and the Canadian Labour Congress. They also
are supported by human rights organizations including Mining Watch and
the Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC), a
Mexican human rights group that has organized an international group of
observers to monitor today's vote.
"The United Steelworkers calls on Excellon to allow a free and fair
vote," said USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann.
"Since Excellon began operations at La Platosa, workers have been denied
fair wages, profit sharing and life insurance," Neumann said. "They
have worked in conditions that affect their health and put their lives
at risk. Workers who have challenged these abuses have been unlawfully
fired. It's time to put a stop to these abuses."
Workers and communal landowners from La Platosa travelled to Canada in
May, speaking at Excellon's shareholders meeting and filing a complaint
against the company with Canadian authorities under the Guidelines on
Multinational Enterprises of the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD).
"Because Excellon is a Canadian company, our government has a special
responsibility to ensure that it does not interfere with its workers'
rights to organize and to democratically choose their representatives,"
Three unions are on the ballot for today's vote by the La Platosa Mine
workers, including Section 309 of Los Mineros. The other two
organizations are regarded by labour experts in Canada and the U.S. as
Yesterday, the President of the Durango Conciliation and Arbitration
Board, which will oversee today's election, blocked an effort by one of
the company unions to cancel the vote. The Board also rejected an
attempt by Excellon to have the vote take place inside the mine.
"This is the first union election in Mexico since the country's
presidential vote last Sunday," noted Ken Neumann. "This vote will tell
us whether Mexico is moving forward to allow democratic unions or
returning to the corruption of the past."
Section 309 of Los Mineros held a legal work stoppage at the La Platosa
Mine on July 23, 2011, to try to force the company to sign a contract.
On August 18, 2011, in the presence of Durango state government
officials, Excellon agreed to recognize the existence of the union and
to sign a contract. Despite this agreement, the company then signed a
contract with the "Adolfo Lopez Mateos" union, regarded as a company
union, without the knowledge of mine workers.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Benjamin Davis, USW Director of International Affairs, +1-412-562-2501 (w), +1-202-550-3729 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org, Skype: bendavis
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, email@example.com.