Report: Auto Parts Plant Violated Mexican Worker Rights

Ten workers fired for union activity have refused severance pay. Credit: CFO

Ten workers fired for union activity have refused severance pay. Credit: CFO

An international auto parts production plants has violated worker rights numerous times with actions that include a retaliatory mass firing and interference with union elections, according to a new report by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).

Since August 2011, the actions of Arneses y Accesorios de Mexico have “represented serious and clear-cut violations of international labor standards as embodied in the conventions of the International Labor Organization, as well as the codes of conduct of several of PKC’s customer firms,” according to the report.

In December, the Finnish-owned PKC fired more than 100 union supporters at Arneses y Accesorios, including the entire union committee, for campaigning for the election of an independent trade union, the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers (known as “Los Mineros”), a Solidarity Center partner, at their plants in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. According to Los Mineros, the “workers were called individually to the human resources office and told to sign a ‘voluntary’ resignation letter. Officials of the Federal Labor Board were present and encouraged the workers to sign.” The union says workers were told that “the company has decided it no longer needs your services.”

The report found that the company denied workers the opportunity to exercise their right to freely join a union and bargain collectively by:

• Installing a so-called protection contract with the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (Confederation of Workers of Mexico, CTM), and subsequently using the agreement to prevent workers from freely exercising their associational rights. The CTM is a labor organization with a history of acting as “protection union” by assisting employers in blocking independent unionization efforts.

• Engaging in anti-union harassment and intimidation in the lead-up to a union election in October 2012. Such actions included directing managers to issue anti-union threats and hold captive audience meetings to dissuade workers from joining Los Mineros.
• Manipulating the union election by hiring short-term employees and directing them to vote for CTM.

The report also documented sexual harassment of women workers, who “provided credible testimony that Arneses y Accesorios managers pressured them to engage in sexual relations in exchange for promotions or other work benefits.”

The 20-page report lists recommendation for restoring worker rights at Arneses y Accesorios, which include immediately reinstating all workers dismissed in retaliation for exercising their right to freely associate and providing them with back pay.

Read the full report.