On March 2nd, a delegation from the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) and International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) met with Mr. Cortes Lastra, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Committee at the European Parliament in Brussels.
The EMF and IMF had requested a meeting with Mr. Cortes Lastra in connection with the ongoing global campaign concerning labour right violations in Mexico.
The meetings of the EU-Mexico Committee focus on trade policy, political dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and the Mexican Government. The Committee meets twice a year; once in Mexico and once in Brussels.
Fernando Lopes, IMF Assistant General Secretary, presented the campaign, its activities around the world and the four demands.
Hold employer and government officials accountable for the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion that killed 65 miners on February 19, 2006.
Abolish systemic violations of workers’ freedom of association, including employer-dominated “protection contracts” and interference in union elections.
End the use of force by the state or private parties to repress workers’ legitimate demands for democratic unions, better wages and working conditions, and good health and safety conditions.
End the campaign of political persecution against the Mexican Miner’s Union and the Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union.
The EMF representatives presented the campaign from a European perspective, putting an emphasis on the fact that European trade unions have been actively engaged in labour relations in Mexico since 2006 including contacts with the former chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee on Mexico, Erika Mann. The EMF also emphasised that the campaign receives support from Stephen Hughes, Member of Socialist Group in the European Parliament.
Since 2006 the Mexican government has escalated its illegal and violent attacks on the Mexican Miners’ Union Los Mineros, the union that demanded justice for the death of 65 miners at Pasta de Conchos and the recovery of the miners’ bodies.
The Mexican government has systematically and repeatedly violated Mexican law and international standards in an attempt to crush the Mexican Miners’ Union. The Mexican Miners’ Union is not alone. The few other genuinely independent trade unions seeking to improve the lives of Mexican workers have also found themselves increasingly under fire.
After a review of the European Parliament Resolutions on Mexico that have been adopted in the past few years, it can be concluded that the Committee is not a stranger to speaking out for human rights. The Resolutions include harsh text against organised crime, drug trafficking, persecution of media workers and also against violence against women. However, no specific mentioning exists in relation to general labour rights or the ongoing labour violations.
The EMF and IMF representatives suggested that such a Resolution would be most welcome by the global labour movement. Mr. Cortes Lastra is a former head of office of the Spanish Workers’ Socialist Party and shows great understanding and compassion for labour rights and current wrong doings in Mexico. Mr. Cortes Lastra encouraged the inclusion of labour violations in the discussions at coming Committee meetings and said that an improved information exchange with trade unions was welcome. The Committee enjoys positive relation with the Mexican Government, which could mean that there is a momentum to discuss labour issues.
The EMF and IMF also suggested that the next Committee meeting taking place in Mexico would include talks with trade union representatives and the EMF and IMF offered to put together a proposal of such talks.