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Working In These Times

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009, 8:55 am

After Massive March in Mexico, Union-Govt. Talks Break Down

BY Chenault Taylor

Tens of thousands of fired workers at the state-owned Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LFC) electricity company are still not certain where their future lies.

After a surprise closure and takeover of the company by Mexican authorities October 11 that laid off 44,000 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), workers were left with few options.

So they protested in public: Last Thursday, between 150,000 and 300,000 people marched along Reforma Avenue to Mexico City’s main square in protest of the forced closure.

Talks between SME and the government in Mexico City have already broken down. "All the conditions they want to impose are unacceptable," Humberto Montes de Oca, a top SME official, said Monday. "We're going to leave the talks."

The government has stood by its decision, arguing that the union did not do enough to improve its market competitiveness, and was no longer valuable to the economy or public interest of the state. Some analysts believe these actions were motivated more by President Felipe Calderon’s desire to show his strength than by LFC inefficiencies.

New AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has pledged solidarity with the SME and criticized the Mexican government’s actions. Trumka called for:

1) a revocation of the government decree unilaterally liquidating the Company;

2) an end to the occupation of the power plants by the Federal Police;

3) the implementation of good-faith negotiations between the Mexican Government and the Union on the relevant financial and administrative issues.

The union has vowed to take legal action against the government. Calderon remains unwavering in his decision, leaving tens of thousands of workers left staring into the abyss of unemployment.

Chenault Taylor, a former In These Times web intern, is a student at Northwestern University.

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