USW Chastises Mexican Government's Decision to Liquidate Central Light & Power; Fire 44,000 Workers

For more information, contact: Dan Kovalik – (412) 335-6442

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) today accused the Mexican government of violating its own Constitution and labor laws, as well as Convention 87 of the International Labor Organization by unilaterally liquidating Central Light & Power Company (LyF); firing all 44,000 employees of LyF; and effectively dissolving the SME union by this mass firing, by the interference in the SME internal elections and by the freezing of SME assets.

In a letter to Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, USW International President Leo W. Gerard called for the government to reconsider its action.

“It is clear to us that all of this was done with the intention to destroy the SME, one of the few independent and democratic unions in Mexico,” Gerard wrote, “and that these actions constituted a dramatic violation of Mexico's obligations under by ILO Convention 87 and under the NAALC.”

Gerard also urged the Mexican government to return the status quo by returning all 44,000 workers to their prior jobs immediately; unfreezing the assets of the SME; and negotiating with the SME, and its designated leaders, as the legitimate representative of these workers. Only such remedial actions will bring Mexico in compliance with its own laws as well as international norms governing the labor relations of nations.

“Further,” Gerard wrote, “until these remedial steps are taken, we call upon the Mexican government to extent social security protections, for a period of at least one year, to all active employees of LyF.”

A fact-finding team, which included a USW senior associate general counsel, went to Mexico City late last month. While in Mexico City, the delegation met with leaders, members and attorneys for the SME union; Mexican Congressional Representatives; the Mexican Labor Ministry and the U.S. and Canadian Embassies.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

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