Goons, Armed Police Confront Workers Holding Union Vote at Excellon Resources Mine
TORONTO, July 5, 2012 /CNW/ – Workers attempting to hold a free and democratic unionization vote today at a Mexican silver mine owned by Canadian mining company Excellon Resources are being confronted by heavily armed police and goons from a company-controlled union.
As workers at Excellon’s La Platosa Mine in Durango, Mexico, attempted to cast their unionization votes this morning, Excellon allowed four trucks of state police – armed with combat rifles – onto the property, human rights and labour observers reported.
Labour and civil society groups are watching today’s vote closely, given the history of systematic labour and human rights violations affecting the La Platosa Mine workers and the surrounding community.
“There must be about two dozen heavily armed state police at the mine site right now,” reported Ben Davis of the United Steelworkers, one of the observers of today’s union vote.
After the state police arrived, several dozen men, who appear to be members of a company-controlled union, began intimidating workers.
“There are now close to 100 of these guys, some carrying sticks, and we just got a report they are blocking the road to keep the second shift of workers from coming in to vote,” Davis said this morning.
Mexican federal police, also heavily armed, arrived at the mine site shortly before noon (Eastern time), Davis said.
The workers at Excellon’s La Platosa Mine are voting 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.
Three unions are on the ballot for today’s vote, including Section 309 of Mexico’s National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers, or Los Mineros. The other two organizations are regarded by labour experts in Canada and the U.S. as company-controlled unions.
Since the mineworkers affiliated to Los Mineros in 2010, they have suffered oppression, intimidation and unfair dismissals intended to stop the organizing process and prevent true union representation that would defend their rights.
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.
For more updates and information on the situation at the La Platosa Mine, visit www.usw.ca.