Union Election at Excellon Mine in Mexico Plagued by Intimidation and Irregularities

TORONTO, July 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Amid intimidation and irregularities, the National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers (Los Mineros) lost an election to represent workers at Excellon's La Platosa mine in Mexico by a one-vote margin.

An international observer team that monitored the voting has reported that the election was "marred by a number of serious irregularities that cast doubt on the official results."

Los Mineros attorneys have challenged the vote count and plan to file legal appeals.

The labour and human rights observers cited a climate of intimidation that included pressure and threats from mine management, the presence of some 100 men - many carrying sticks - who at one point blocked the mine entrance to prevent workers from entering, and the presence of a large number of heavily armed municipal, state and federal police.

"This is a very disappointing result," said United Steelworkers (USW) Canadian National Director Ken Neumann.

"Clearly, Excellon did not get the message that it must respect the right of its workers to a free and fair process for choosing their bargaining representative," Neumann said.

The La Platosa workers and Los Mineros are supported by Canadian unions, including the 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.

Thursday's voting scandal is the latest in a long series of controversies surrounding the Mexican mining operations of Canadian-based Excellon Resources. Excellon has faced complaints of systematic labour and human rights violations affecting the La Platosa Mine workers and the surrounding community.

The official vote count from Thursday's election was 45 for Los Mineros, 46 for the union led by Carlos Pavón, who is closely linked to the Peñoles mining company, and 32 for the Adolfo López Mateos union that currently controls the labour contract at the mine. The latter two unions are widely regarded as company-dominated "protection unions." There were six challenged ballots.

Other irregularities reported by the observer team include the labour authorities' insistence on holding the election at the mine site instead of a neutral location, posting a leaflet for one of the company unions, and discrepancies with ballots and the list of voters.

"As far as union democracy is concerned, it looks like Mexico is returning to its authoritarian past," said Neumann.  "But this fight is not over and we will continue to support Excellon's workers until they win their fight for justice."

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), bdavis@usw.org, Skype: bendavis
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca.


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