MAC: Mines and Communities

Union Strikes At Sonoran Mines, Mexico

Published by MAC on 2006-03-01
Source: The Associated Press

Union strikes at Sonoran mines, México

by The Associated Press

1st March 2006

About 5,500 members of Mexico's Mining and Metal Workers Union went on strike Tuesday at the country's largest copper mine and three other sites owned by Grupo Mexico SA, owner of a coal mine where 65 miners died last week in an explosion. Union members voted to strike at the country's largest copper mines, La Caridad and Cananea, both in Sonora near the Arizona border, over "lack of equipment and adequate maintenance," the union said.

The copper walkout Killed 4,000 Grupo Mexico workers; another 1,500 workers struck a Grupo Mexico zinc-processing facility.

Grupo Mexico SA de CV is among the world's largest copper producers. Its mining operations in Mexico and Peru produced around 770,000 tons of copper last year. It is also the parent of Tucson-based Asarco LLC.

The safety concerns came to a head after the deaths of 65 coal miners in a Feb. 19 explosion at Grupo Mexico's Pasta de Conchos mine in northern Coahuila state, about 85 miles southwest of the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas.

Relatives of the victims said the Pasta de Conchos mine was unsafe and miners had inadequate equipment.

The miners union, which represents about 250,000 workers nationwide, has been critical of Grupo Mexico's handling of the accident.

In a news release Saturday, the union called on families of the victims not to negotiate any compensation agreement with the company or labor authorities until the union's National Executive Committee defined its own proposal.

Grupo Mexico offered each family about $72,000 in compensation, in addition to pensions, insurance and other benefits they are entitled to by law.

The company said it will also set up a fund to pay for the education of the dead workers' children up to college graduation, and will also pay their wages until the other benefits are processed.

The union said its proposal is for at least double what the company is offering.

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