May 23, 2008

Take Action - Support Mexican Workers

Source: UE International

The issue

Authentic Labor Front logoRecently, public employee members of an affiliate of the Authentic Labor Front (Frente Auténtico del Trabajo or FAT) were fired from their jobs cleaning public restrooms after a long series of contract violations by their employer, a private contractor for Mexico City.

Four workers and a leader of the FAT were eventually arrested. With much work and pressure, the union was able to gain their release from jail, but the employees still face criminal charges.

This is an unprecedented move against workers' rights and a collective bargaining agreement.

How you can help

A draft letter is available below. Please feel free to use it to cut, paste, edit and e-mail to Lic. Marcelo Ebrard, head of the government of Mexico City.

Be sure to cc the following people and organizations:

Thank you for your support!


Draft Letter

(courtesy UE International)

Lic. Marcelo Luís Ebrard Casaubon
Head of the Government of Mexico City

Dear Lic. Ebrard:

We write to you to ask for your intervention in the following situation detailed below:

Background: The workers of the Public Restrooms of Territory "A" of the Market of Flowers, Vegetables, and Zone of Kitchens of the Center of Supplies of Mexico City (Mercado de Flores, Hortalizas y Zona de Cocinas de la Central de Abasto del D. F.) are members of Sindicato de Trabajadores de Casas Comerciales, Oficinas y Expendios, Similares y Conexos del Distrito Federal (STRACC¬the Union of Workers of Commercial Residences, Offices and Expenses, Similar and Connected of Mexico City), affiliated with the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo.

The workers and STRACC have a signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Trust for Construction and Operation of the Center of Supplies of the City of Mexico (el Fideicomiso para la Construcción y Operación de la Central de Abasto), which was filed with the Junta Local de Conciliación y Arbitraje del D. F. (Mexico City labor board), January 19, 2007, with folio number 00967 and is now in effect.

On December 11, 2007, the Trust for Construction and Operation of the Center of Supplies of the City of Mexico and the company called Operadora Empresarial SAFE, S. A. de C. V. (OESSA) celebrated a covenant in terms of Article 41 of the Federal Labor Law, through which the company became the substitute employer which recognizes all and every one of the Rights and responsibilities derived from labor relations which the Trust has with its staff for service of the bathrooms. The union was informed of this covenant on December 15, 2007, and the covenant was signed by la Lic. Itzel Arizavalo Priego of the Trust and by the company, whose CEO is Ma. Eugenia González Lobo.

All the unionized workers to the service of the new concessionaire continued providing their services in a constant and uninterrupted form, fulfilling their assigned work. Nevertheless, OESSA, through its manager Sr. Armando Vega, met with the worker members of STRACC on April 29, 2008, in a deceitful and deceptive way. He put the workers on a bus, telling them that they were going to an "informative meeting," going around in circles for an hour until they arrived at Hotel Abastos Plaza. Here the C. P. Julio Parra Campos, the general manager, called them in one by one to enter a room of the hotel where three men were waiting for them, men who presented themselves as representatives ("Actuarios") of the Junta Federal de Conciliación y Arbitraje (federal labor board), one of whose name is Gabriel Antonio Moreno Díaz, attached to la Junta Especial Num. 15 (which has nothing to do with the Contract and Registration of the union, which is under local jurisdiction), and six attorneys of the office of Baker & McKenzie, S. C.

Once in the room, they told the workers that they were fired, that they could not return to work because they were going to be replaced by other workers starting from that day and that they had no reason to try to return to work, that if they did not sign their resignation, they would file a criminal case against them for robbery, and that they did not want to go to this extreme. It is important to mention that all these people, from the company to the representatives of la Junta, were threatening the workers for three hours, forcing 14 workers to resign from their jobs.

The rest of the workers refused to sign, tried to leave the room, but they were stopped from leaving by two of the people who placed a table completely blocking the door, such that they were practically kidnapped.

The workers protested that their dismissal was not fair and that they would not sign anything. The only thing that they wanted was their job, and that if they did not let them leave the room, they were going to yell to ask for help. Only in this way did they let the workers leave, but not before they warned them not to return to work because they already had other people ready to work.

In the following days, the workers went to their workplaces for their respective work schedules and the company continued to pressure them to sign their resignation, kicking them out of the workplace and sending them to other restrooms, using verbal violence the entire time.

On May 6, at 5:00 in the morning, the company threatened the workers again, this time with eviction, alleging that they were no longer their employees. The compañeros said that they were not going to leave their job posts. After 6 hours of useless attempts by the company, señor Héctor Villegas arrived, who presented himself as an official of the Secretary of the Government of Mexico City, a Sr. Antonio Salas Juárez and Noé Mejía Tome, supported by the police, and with all the luxury of physical violence (Sr. Salas was the one who gave the order to hit) with pushes, scratches, bites, and pulls they removed the workers, taking to jail four compañeros and a compañera of the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT) and whom they accused of "spoils" and they accused eight workers of "undue use of their rights."

May 7 in the early morning we were able to gain freedom for our arrested compañeros, but now a criminal trial will follow. The workers presented themselves for work in the morning, and they were denied access to their workplaces and told that they were not going to allow a union nor a collective contract there.

It is for this reason that we demand that an investigation of this case be carried out:

  • For the kidnapping suffered by the workers
  • For the violations committed against the current Collective Contract signed by the STRACC and the Trust of the Center of Supplies of Mexico City (el Fideicomiso de la Central de Abasto del D. F.)
  • For the threats and pressure used to get signatures of resignation
  • For the use of physical violence to unjustly remove the workers

And we demand:

  • that the Public Minister agree and resolve that no criminal action be taken because no elements, facts, nor conduct exists to proceed against the workers and the union leaders
  • a stop to the repression against the workers of the STRACC and the leaders of the FAT
  • a stop to the violations of labor laws and respect for the collective contract
  • the immediate cancelation of the concession to the company OESSA.
  • hold responsibility the authors of this situation, without precedent, that the compañeros have suffered.

Sincerely,

(Your name or organization)

c.c. José Ángel Ávila, Secretaría de Gobierno

Lic. Benito Mirón L., Secretaría del Trabajo

Lic. Laura Velásquez, Secretaría de Desarrollo Económico

Lic. Raymundo Collins F. Director del Fideicomiso de la CEDA

Comisión de Derechos Humanos del D. F.