Canadian miner breaks conflict resolution process with Mexican workforce
Workers at the Canadian-owned La Platosa mine in Mexico have accused Excellon Resources of a flagrant abuse of their rights which has lasted for more than five years.
On October 19 2011, a Canadian government "Social Responsibility" Counsellor confirmed that the company has willfully broken off negotiations with its employees, despite the workers' readiness to continue the process.
Last month, the United Steelworkers union, based in North America, reported that some 300 Mexican army troops, federal and state police, surrounded and blocked the entrances to the La Platosa mine.
The closing report by Canada's Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor is at: http://business-humanrights.org/media/documents/office-of-the-extractive-sector-closing-report-oct-2011.pdf
Excellon Resources Inc, a Canadian mining company, breaks the conflict resolution process with the Government of Canada's Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor
Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC) Statement
The Project on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as the workers of the La Platosa mine, organized under Section 309 of the Miners Union (SNTMMSRM), manifest their concerns towards Excellon Resources Inc.'s flagrant absence of compromise in fulfilling international human rights standards.
25 October 2011
Mexico, D.F - On the 19th of October, the Government of Canada's Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, Dr. Marketa Evans, formally reported the decision of Excellon Resources, a Canadian company which holds operations in the State of Durango, to withdraw from the review request process initiated by the workers of the La Platosa mine, the (SNTMMSRM), and the Project on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights A.C (ProDESC)
In April of 2011, the aforementioned organizations presented a complaint to the office of Dr. Evans due to the evident violations committed against the labor human rights of the La Platosa mine workers, specifically in regards to health and safety, and freedom of association.
As their final report informs, during the visit made in July 2011, the counselor spoke with a dozen of the workers in which it directly heard about the abuses and malpractices on behalf of the supervisors and company directors, as well as on the precarious labor conditions the workers seemed obliged to perform.
In addition, the Counsellor heard testimonies about the constant harassment and threats the workers have been subjected to by the general manager and the supervisors of the mine. As a result, the workers decided to organize and claim their right to freedom of association.
As petitioner organizations, we make public our categorical rejection of Excellon Resources Inc.'s arbitrary withdrawal from the process. This action is, without a doubt, another proof of the company's absence of respect and compliance towards national and international human labor rights standards.
Similarly, it confirms the company's unwillingness to enter a process of dialogue and agree upon a possible solution to a conflict that directly threatens the rights of the La Platosa mine workers.
We, the petitioners, believe that the Counsellor office is not the only instance to which you can go to demand justice for the collective rights of workers, therefore, we will seek to address these violations under other national and international mechanisms to ensure that the human rights of the affected people are respected.
It is important to mention that, as the final report by the Counsellor indicates, it was not until the complaint process was initiated in the Counsellor's office that the workers discovered they already had a union and were under a collective bargaining agreement.
This information proves that since 2005, the company has sought to inhibit the workers' ability to enforce their right to freedom of association, and that the conflict that now afflicts the mine is not a conflict between antagonistic unions, as highlighted in their last press release, but rather a flagrant violation of the labor human rights of Mexican workers.
In her report, Dr. Evans indicates that the workers were willing to enter into a process of negotiation for the betterment of their labor conditions, and actually demonstrated an attitude of respect towards the process: "there was not a single moment when the people interviewed expressed unreasonable demands [...] and they manifested their desire to improve relations with Excellon."
However, the company denounced the allegations, and publically dismissed those arguing that the National Miners Union was an illegal entity and that ProDESC was not a very well recognized organization.
In this sense, as the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counselor informs in her report, the National Miners' Union has not been declared illegal and ProDESC has demonstrated that it relies on relevant information and has national and international credibility. Furthermore, the International Federation of Metallurgic Workers (IMF) and the International Network of Economic, Social, and Cultural rights (Red-DESC) refuted the declarations made by the company.
Given the aforementioned information, the Project on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights A.C., the SNTMMSSRM, and the workers of the La Platosa's mine, represented by section 309 of SNTMMSSRM, condemn Excellon Resources Inc.'s actions and demand that the company comply with the maximum standards of labor human rights.
Furthermore, we condemn the Mexican government, both at the local and federal level, as it endorses these types of multinational company practices that threaten the human rights of Mexican workers.
Likewise, we urge the Canadian government to expeditiously hold Excellon Resources Inc. accountable for its lack of compliance with the guidelines of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as other international standards of Corporations and Human Rights.
Excellon Resources Expresses Disappointment With CSR Counsellor's Closing Report Issued Today and Claims Social Responsibility Process Is Flawed
19 October 2011
TORONTO, ONTARIO - Excellon Resources Inc. announced today that it strongly believes that the Corporate Social Responsibility Request for Review Process initiated at its Platosa Mine Site in Durango State, Mexico is flawed due to erroneous information and therefore cannot add any value to Excellon nor any other Canadian company which may be drawn into this process.
Excellon supports the stated aim of the process in principle which is "to assist Canadian Companies to deal with allegations", but fails to see how the process could ever achieve its stated aim as it is presently structured.
Jeremy Wyeth, President and CEO states: "Excellon views its Corporate Social Responsibility as an integral part of the way it operates as a Company and has a proud record with its operations in Mexico. We have successfully worked with two different unions at our two Mexican work sites. The Company is recognized as one of the highest paying mining employers in Mexico with an excellent safety record. Furthermore, we have always had outstanding relationships with all local communities and the Federal and Durango State Governments.
We engage in forums for working with local affected communities and meet on a regular basis to maintain our relationships. Excellon's daily shift safety meetings allow satisfactory opportunity to raise any concerns to the supervisory staff and management."
The initial request process was initiated by a disgruntled employee of the Company who was lawfully dismissed last year for sleeping on a scooptram underground while the equipment was running (a violation of the company's safety policy and Mexican Law), along with a Mexican NGO and a union that does not represent the employees at the Platosa Mine site. This union is associated with the Canadian Steelworkers Union.
Excellon through its due diligence regarding this issue subsequently proved to the CSR Counsellor that the allegations made by the requesters were false, and yet the process that has been started cannot end until the requesters, who are not stakeholders of either the community or the Company, decide that they are satisfied.
The CSR Counsellor's Office is attempting to force the Company to enter into a process of structured dialogue with the requesters, which would be in violation of Mexican Labour Laws, and inducing a breach of its existing labour contract with the existing certified union at the mine site. Excellon refused to break Mexican Law and could not legally enter into discussions with rival unions without complying with the Mexican Labour process of Government supervised voting.
It is clear to Excellon that the CSR Counsellor's Office involvement in this process is appearing to legitimize unfounded allegations against the Company as this process would clearly favour one union against the other unions attempting to show that they are representative.
At a meeting held yesterday with Excellon Management, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the CSR Counsellor acknowledged that the requesters were not stakeholders. This is clearly not what is stated in the CSR Counsellor's closing report.
The Company has already lost seven days of production at the Platosa Mine in the last two months due to illegal blockades by two rival unions that are engaged in a national battle for dominance in Mexico. Excellon believes that this blockade was fueled by the CSR Counsellor's Office site visit to Mexico in July, 2011. The Durango State Government informed Excellon that in the first blockade by the union that was part of the requesting party, 250 people were bussed in from Zacatecas State over 300kms away to blockade the mine.
Excellon is of the opinion that the Labour Laws in Durango State and the implementation by the Durango State Government are not dissimilar to Canadian Labour Laws.
Excellon has been dealing for eight weeks on an almost daily basis with the Mexican Labour Authority to ensure that Mexican Labour Law is upheld through this process. It is disconcerting that a foreign entity/entities can so easily use an agent of the Canadian Government to aid and abet them in their attempts to circumvent Mexican labour Laws.
The requesting union is refusing to follow the Mexican Labour Law that requires them to file a challenge against the existing registered union and then follow a government supervised voting process. The union is demanding instant recognition without following the legal voting process, a tactic that they have used previously on other Canadian Companies operating in Mexico.
Excellon, a mineral resource company operating in Durango and Zacatecas States, Mexico, and Ontario and Quebec, Canada, is committed to building value through production, expansion and discovery. Excellon is producing silver, lead and zinc from the high-grade manto Mineral Resource on its large, 100% owned Platosa Property, strategically located in the middle of the Mexican silver belt. Excellon's focus is on expanding its operating capacity and increasing its Mineral Resources at Platosa where an exploration program focused on diamond drilling and advanced geophysical techniques is ongoing. All of these activities are fully funded through existing cash flow. The Platosa Property, not fully explored, has several geological indicators of a large mineralized system. Excellon also has on-going gold exploration programs on the DeSantis Project, located near Timmins, Ontario and the Beschefer Project, located in northwestern Quebec. Both these projects host known gold mineralization and significant potential for the discovery of additional mineralization.