Mine Disaster Anniversary Sparks Calls for End to Mexico's Violent Repression of Labour and Human Rights

VANCOUVER, Feb. 17 /CNW/ - Mexican and B.C. labour leaders are speaking out today against the violent repression of labour and human rights in Mexico.

Labour and community supporters are gathering in downtown Vancouver, across from the Mexican Consulate, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Pasta de Conchos coal mine disaster that killed 65 miners. The event is part of demonstrations in 30 countries.

"It is recognized that Mexico has become a dangerous country for Canadian tourists. It is a brutal country for independent trade unionists," says United Steelworkers Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. "The violence and repression of workers and human rights is spiraling out of control."

Napoleon Gomez, exiled leader of the Mexican Mine and Metalworkers Union (Los Mineros), says Mexico's government must recover the bodies of 63 miners still buried, provide adequate compensation for surviving families, and investigate and prosecute those responsible.

On June 6, 2010 widows of Pasta de Conchos victims were forcibly removed from their ongoing presence at the mine site. The same night, the Mexican government sent thousands of federal and state police to break a legal strike of Los Mineros members at the Grupo Mexico copper mine and smelter in Cananea, Sonora State.

Also speaking at today's event are Jorge Castillo, deputy secretary general of the Mexican Telephone Workers Union (STRM) and Martin Esparza, secretary general of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME). Both organizations' members have been violently attacked by Mexican authorities.

In July 2010, STRM members working at call centres owned by the Telefonica company were attacked by police and company goons for attempting to leave their company-imposed union.

In October 2009, Felipe Calderon's government dissolved Mexico's second-largest public electrical power distributor and illegally fired 44,000 SME members. Federal police entered company premises and violently removed workers.

Following today's event a delegation of B.C. labour leaders from the USW, CEP, CAW, COPE 378, CUPE, CLC and the B.C. Federation of Labour will meet the Mexican Consul General in Vancouver. They will call for Mexico's government to restore justice for killed workers, ensure freedom of association, and stop the use of force to repress workers' demands for democratic unions, better wages and working conditions and safe workplaces.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Stephen Hunt, 604-683-1117, 604-816-2554
Norman Garcia, 604-683-1117, 604-838-3653


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