Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's a sad day for beer drinkers. Down Mexico way the management of the plant that manufactures bottles for the Corona Beer Company have been engaging in vicious union busting tactics. The workers affected have called for an international boycott of Corona Beer. That's one boycott that Molly will have little trouble adhering to as I never drink the stuff. But now the rest of the story....
Mexico: 250 Corona bottle makers fired for forming an independent union

More than 250 employees of a factory that manufactures beer bottles for Corona (amongst others) in San Luis Potosí have been fired for associating with a legally recognised independent union. The factory's owners are also purging the factory of sympathisers of the sacked workers.

Almost two years of unionising activity had resulted in workers ousting the corrupt, mainstream Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC) union from the shopfloor of the Industrial Vidriera Potosí (IVP) glass factory and replacing it with the independent Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Empresa IVP (SUTEIVP). The union's first action was to gain a 19% payrise off the employers: Grupo Modelo, who export the weak and tasteless Corona beer internationally, as well as selling a host of beer brands in Mexico.

Upon being informed of their redundancies, the sacked union activists (which included anyone with a delegated post in the SUTEIVP) attempted to a hold a legally-binding strike, only for the national labour abritration panel (the Junta Federal de Conciliación y Arbitraje [JFCyA]) to ban it and block workers from occupying the factory building. In response, the SUTEIVP have erected a permanent picket outside the factory gates.

Grupo Modelo is now cracking down on support for the newly jobless SUTEIVP shopfloor activists. CCTV has been installed in order to monitor their stall and keep records of workers who approach it, and informers have been placed on company transportation to and from the site, with workers being hauled in front of management if "they so much as open a [bus] window and greet picketers".

IVP workers have also been threatened with redundancy for refusing to sign a contract approving the reinstatement of CROC representation. CROC are affiliated to the state-run Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos (CTM), an organism that is entrenched in the Mexican political culture of "charrismo" and mafiosi-esque corruption. The recent closure of the Grupo Navarra maquiladora in Puebla was also after the victory of an independent union against CROC in factory elections.

SUTEIVP have organised marches from San Luis Potosí to Mexico City (over 400km) and established a permanent presence outside the headquarters of Grupo Modelo and its sister companies, the US embassy and the JFCyA offices in the capital, with whom they have lodged an appeal against their ruling. Internationally, it calls for a boycott of Modelo products, which to readers outside Mexico will mean giving up yuppy favourite Corona beer.

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