Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mexico's Union Bust Reveals Flaws in NAFTA

Mexico's Union Bust Reveals Flaws in NAFTA
Laura Carlsen
Foreign Policy In Focus
October 22, 2009

Fernando Lopez woke up on a Sunday morning out of a job.
For the electrical worker, the feeling was terrifying.

"From one day to the next, they left us with no job -
nothing," Lopez said, as he marched alongside some
200,000 fellow workers and their supporters in downtown
Mexico City on October 15.

On the night of Saturday, October 10, thousands of
soldiers and federal police moved into position in the
darkness. After cutting fences and forcing out the
workers, they occupied over 50 installations of the
state-owned utility company, Central Light and Power
(Luz y Fuerza), awaiting the administrative blow that
would follow. At midnight, President Felipe Calderon
issued an executive decree to liquidate the company and
its union, the Mexican Electrical Workers Union
(Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas - SME), one of the
strongest and most vocal independent unions in the

The move had been carefully prepared by the government.
Troop movements throughout the central part of the
country serviced by Central Light went unnoticed under
cover of the massive mobilization of security forces
fighting the militarized drug war.

The decree follows a union conflict that the government
fueled and then took advantage of to eliminate the
company and its union. Union elections last June were
contested amid rumors that the federal government was
actively fomenting division. In a warning sign, on
October 5 the Secretary of Labor, Javier Lozano,
rejected registration of the new union leadership
without waiting for a decision from the labor tribunal.
The "Sabadazo," or Saturday Offensive, took place when
the union and the government were still in talks.

NAFTA and the Battle Over Who Will Pay For the Crisis

Read entire piece at
Laura Carlsen
Foreign Policy In Focus
October 22, 2009

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