Napo promotes union headcounts to gain collective bargaining agreements

Note published in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] section by María del Pilar Martínez.
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Based on the possibility granted by the Federal Labor Law to switch unions based on a headcount, union leader Gómez Urrutia has called companies with the objective of representing the workers and gaining leadership in the mining sector.

The National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic wants to take the leadership in these sectors and, to this end, it promotes union headcounts – voting among workers in order to switch to a different union – with the objective of adding collective bargaining agreements to the organization headed by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, who is also a senator.

Based on the possibility granted by the Federal Labor Law to switch unions based on a headcount, union leader Gómez Urrutia has called companies, such as the Canadian company American Gold and Silver Corporation or Holcim, with the objective of representing their workers, which could result in a labor panel, within the framework of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), promoted by opposing unions.

As a union leader, Gómez Urrutia intends to lead sectors such as mining, in which he ceased to have representativity, into instability. He runs campaigns and promotes headcounts before the labor authorities; given the pandemic that we are living, it is risky to make workers attend voting sessions in person but, above all, he wants to hold the majority of collective bargaining agreements, said specialist in labor law Ricardo Martínez Rojas.

The most recent dispute will be the one to be held in the San Rafael mine, in Cosalá, Sinaloa on September 17 of this year, despite the fact that the National Union of Workers of the Mining-Metallurgical Industry of the CTM, Javier Villarreal, has held the collective bargaining agreement since 2019.

Villarreal, after pointing out that they will not participate in the headcount, stated that “given the climate of violence provoked by the Morena Senator, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the Canadian-based company announced that it will close its operations in Mexico definitively, after nearly nine months of an illegal strike at their facilities”.

In this sense, congressman Carlos Pavón Campos, who leads the “Frente” [Front] Mining Union, maintained that there are processes in which union freedom has been violated, since they don’t take other organizations that also seek to participate in voting, such as his, into consideration.

In face of these violations, stated Pavón Campos, “the front will file a complaint before the USMCA labor panelists. He has to announce the date of the headcount 24 working hours in advance, and that did not happen, he left the other unions totally defenseless”.

Nevertheless, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia maintained that “the workers will freely choose the union that represents them … Miners have been on strike since January, 2020 to request that the company improves the health and safety conditions of the Cosalá, Sinaloa mine”.

Support from international unions

On the other hand, the United Steelworkers (USW) requested the Mexican and Canadian authorities to guarantee the integrity of the union headcount programmed for September 17 in the Canadian mining company Americas Gold and Silver.

“We demand a free and fair headcount, with no threats or pressure from the company”, said the National Canadian Director of the USW, Ken Neumann.

“Threatening to close the workplace if the workers choose a union that they don’t like would clearly be in violation of the labor provisions of the USMCA. We expect that the Canadian government will act forcefully if such violations take place”, said Neumann.