MAC: Mines and Communities

Mexico: Ten years has elapsed since the Pasta de Conchos mining homicides

Published by MAC on 2016-03-03
Source: Statement, PBI, Arizona Daily Star (2016-02-19)

But the government has yet to conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the disaster

Copper miners on both sides of the US-Mexico border are accusing Grupo Mexico, and its U.S. subsidiary Asarco, of violating their rights.

The filing by the two unions marks the 10th anniversary of an explosion at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine, that killed 65 workers in the state of Coahuila.

Ten years after the disaster, the government has still not conducted a thorough investigation of its causes, brought those responsible to justice, recovered the bodies nor compensated the families.

For more information see Pasta de Conchos Family Organization: http://www.pastadeconchos.org

For previous articles on MAC see: Widows of miners killed in blast sue Grupo Mexico
&
Thousands of Miners Strike a Year After Mexican Coal Mine Explosion That Killed 65 Workers

 

Still no justice, ten years after the Pasta de Conchos homicide

http://www.industriall-union.org/still-no-justice-ten-years-after-the-pasta-de-conchos-homicide 
 
18 February 2016

Ten years after the mining homicide at Pasta de Conchos, Mexico, the government has still not conducted a thorough investigation into the real causes of the disaster, brought those responsible to justice, recovered the bodies or compensated the families of the victims.

"How many more tragedies have to occur before justice is done and we put an end to impunity? It would be wonderful if the Mexican government led by Enrique Peña Nieto could find a definitive solution to this unjust situation", said Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, President of the Mexican Union of Miners and Metalworkers’ Union (SNTMMSRM), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.

On 19 February 2006, there was an explosion at Coal Mine 8 owned by the mining company Grupo Mexico in Pasta de Conchos, Coahuila. Sixty-five miners died and nine suffered multiple burns. Years later, the bodies of 63 of the dead miners still lie buried 100 metres underground because the company suspended attempts to recover the bodies.This February 18, on the eve of the tenth anniversary, the First National Mining Forum 2016 will take place at the headquarters of Los Mineros, in which members of the National Executive Committee, the General Vigilance, Justice Council and national and international figures will participate. The Regional Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Almeida is going to represent IndustriALL Global Union at the occasion.

Moreover, on 19 February there will be held a protest march to the Ministries of Interior, Labour and Social Welfare, and to Grupo Mexico. They will demand the recovery of the bodies, a fair compensation to the families of those killed and punishment of the responsible for the industrial homicide.

According to Gómez Urrutia, the company acted negligently by suspending attempts to recover the bodies and refusing to remedy safety problems at the mine prior to the disaster, problems that were reported by members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee many times: “The Miners’ Union demanded immediate action but mean and arrogant company managers, led by Germán Larrea and Xavier García de Quevedo, refused to do anything”, he said.

IndustriALL urges the federal government to put an end to impunity, respect workers' rights, ensure that justice is done and show respect for the dignity of the dead and their families.

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL assistant general Secretary said: "Los Mineros and IndustriALL continue to demand the punishment of those responsible, the recovery of human remains and a fair compensation for the families".


Pasta de Conchos Family Organisation: 10 Years Fighting Impunity

Peace Brigades International - Mexico Office - http://www.pbi-mexico.org/

19 February 2016

Mexico City – 10 years ago today, on February 19, 2006, an enormous explosion left 65 miners trapped in the Mine no. 8 of the Pasta de Conchos Unit of “Grupo Mexico”´s coal mine in Coahuila.

In the years following the disaster, family members of the victims have come together to highlight the precarious working conditions in the area and to demand the retrieval of their bodies of their loved ones (only two bodies have been retrieved to date).

Human Rights Defender Cristina Auerbach joined forces with the families to create the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization, which has been fighting for justice for 10 years.

The members of the organisation expressed their concerns today in front of the headquarters of “Grupo México”, demanding the retrieval of the bodies and the identification and punishment of those responsible for the disaster.

In addition to demanding the retrieval of the bodies trapped underground in the 2006 disaster, today the organisation also documents numerous cases of workplace accidents in the coal mining zone of Coahuila. Because of the work they carry out, members of the organisation have received threats and have been harassed on various occasions.

Auerbach, the director of the group, has already been beaten, threatened, and slandered. Due to her high level of risk, she has been granted protective measures from the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and was also received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a hearing in which she spoke about the situation of women human rights defenders and environmental issues.

PBI has accompanied the Pasta de Conchos Family Organisation and Cristina Auerbach since 2014 by visiting the coal mining zone regularly and conveying international concern over the security of the members of the organisation to state and federal authorities.


Unions accuse Asarco of violating worker rights

Arizona Daily Star

19 February 2016

Copper miners on both sides of the border are accusing parent company Grupo Mexico and its U.S. subsidiary, Asarco, of violating workers’ rights.

A complaint was filed Thursday with the U.S. National Contact Point for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, asking for mediation.

The specific contents of the complaint are confidential, but the United Steel Workers and the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic accuse Tucson-based Asarco of multiple unfair labor practices in the United States, including threatening workers, unlawfully implementing changes in workplace conditions, and failing to negotiate with the unions at the company’s five U.S. facilities.

More than 2,000 workers have been working at Asarco’s copper mines and processing facilities under the terms and conditions of a labor agreement that expired in June 2013 but was extended until the parties terminated it in June 2015.

“Asarco has used intimidation, manipulation and discrimination to interfere with workers attempting to exercise their rights,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a statement. “Companies like Grupo Mexico, and other multinational conglomerates that attempt to silence workers, are precisely the reason why international solidarity among labor unions is so important.”

Asarco officials did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The filing by the two unions comes as workers prepare to mark the 10th anniversary of an explosion at the Grupo Mexico mine at Pasta de Conchos in the state of Coahuila that killed 65 workers. The bodies of 63 miners remain trapped underground.

Representatives of the USW will join Los Mineros members for a march this weekend in Mexico City to demand recovery of the bodies, compensation for the families of the victims, and prosecution of the responsible company and government officials.

It is the latest allegation against the copper company in its years-long clash with workers.

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board issued an amended complaint against Asarco alleging the company unlawfully implemented its “last, best and final offer” though bargaining had not reached a good-faith impasse.

The NLRB charged that the company had refused to bargain collectively with the United Steelworkers and seven other unions, which have represented Asarco employees since 2007.

Asarco was ordered to file a written response and a hearing on both complaints has been set for March 15 in Phoenix. Company officials have not publicly commented on the dispute.

Asarco operates the Mission Mine in Sahuarita south of Tucson, the Silver Bell Mine in Marana and the Ray Mine in central Arizona and a smelter in Hayden.

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