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Support the campaign to win the release of imprisoned union leaders in Burma. Labor Rights Now has produced this poster demanding the military regime release Myo Aung Thant.
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Mexico Blasted for Miners' Union Takeover

    Labor Rights Now endorsed a campaign by the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) seeking an end to the Mexican government's interference in union affairs.

    The Mexican government in 2006 removed the democratically elected leader of the miners' union after he criticized that government following a mine disaster in Pasta de Conchos that killed 65 miners.

    Mexico ousted Napoleon Gomez Urrutia as general secretary of the National Miners' and Metalworkers' union (SNTMMSRM) and installed someone who was not a member of the union. The government also seized all assets of the union.

    The International Metalworkers Federation has filed a complaint against Mexico with the International Labor Organization over the illegal removal of Gomez.

    It cited violations of ILO Convention 87, including:

• Illegal intervention by the Mexican government in independent union activities;
• Forced dismissal of union leadership;
• Seizing union assets; and
• Government appointment of new leaders to what should be elected union positions.

More Information

International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF)

LRN Helps Free Mexican Labor Rights Activist

    Martin Barrios Hernandez, one of Mexico's leading labor rights activists, won release in January 2006 after a brief but intense campaign by Labor Rights Now and many human rights groups. Barrios had been held in state prison after a maquiladora factory owner involved in a workplace dispute claimed blackmail.

    Barrios is president of the Mexican Human and Labor Rights Commission in Puebla's Tehuácan Valley. He had assisted workers in a dispute at the factory of the owner who made the charges.

    Lucio Gil Zarate, a maquila owner in Tehuácan, claimed that Barrios blackmailed him with threats to organize protests and strikes in order to discourage foreign investment.

    Barrios and the Mexican Human and Labor Rights Commission have been providing assistance to workers employed at the Calidad de Confexiones maquila factory, which is owned by Gil.

    The Commission helped workers file a complaint before the local Conciliation and Arbitration Board charging Gil's firm with worker rights violations. Gil signed an agreement on Nov. 10, 2005 to resolve the issues, but the Mexico Human and Labor Rights Commission found he had failed to do so.

    On Nov. 22, 2005, Gil fired all 163 workers who had been part of the original complaint.

    "American workers are concerned that the arrest on Dec. 29 (2005) of Martin Barrios Hernandez is part of an ongoing campaign by maquila owners in the Tehuácan area, such as Mr. Gil, to undermine worker efforts to win better wages and working conditions," Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman said in a letter to Mario Marin Torres, governor of Puebla.

    "Barrios remains imprisoned on these questionable claims by employers with the prospect of a 2-10-year prison term if found guilty," Stillman noted at the time.

    Labor Rights Now urged the Puebla governor to open an investigation of the misuse of the justice system by maquiladora owners in Tehuácan who are subverting internationally recognized labor rights.

More Information

ICFTU's Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in Mexico

Labor Rights Now's poster urging the release of jailed worker activists in China won the silver medal in the American Design Awards competition. The poster has rallied support for freedom for Yao Fuxin.
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