[News] Mexican Electricians Declare Wildcat Actions
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 14 12:58:14 EST 2010
Frustrated With Government Lies, Mexican Electricians Declare Wildcat Actions
Bricker - January 14, 2010 at 12:53 am
Two Workers Detained and Later Released Following Other Campaign Mobilizations
Following President Felipe Calderons executive
order that shut down state-owned Luz y Fuerza and
put its 44,000 workers out of a job, Mexicos
other state-owned electricity company, the
Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), began to
remove equipment from Luz y Fuerza facilities.
When Calderon shut down Luz y Fuerza, he put its
infrastructure and territory under the CFEs
control. However, former Luz y Fuerza workers,
who consider their sudden firing to be illegal
and immoral and continue to fight for work, were
outraged that the CFE was plundering expensive
equipment from their former workplace. Workers
set up protest barricades in front of their
former workplaces in order to block the CFEs
trucks from hauling out more
equipment. Representatives from the Mexican
Electricians Union (SME) visited the barricades,
informed the workers that they were engaging in
unsanctioned protest activity, and requested that
the workers remove them. Workers at many
barricades refused the unions request, and the
union refused to recognize and support the
One such barricade was the one located in
Lechería. Former Luz y Fuerza workers
established that barricade on December 7 when a
caravan of CFE trucks tried to haul away a
turbine from the power plant. The barricade cut
off access to the power plant to prevent CFE
workers and the contractors and police that
accompanied them from removing more equipment.
Anywhere between five and twenty workers staffed
the barricade at any given time.
The workers at the Lechería barricade report
frequent harassment from Federal Police. Heavily
armed Federal Police first showed up at the
barricade on December 15, reportedly to
intimidate the workers in the barricades. On
the night of January 7, approximately 30 Federal
Police reportedly arrived to forcibly disassemble
the barricade. The police removed materials that
blocked the entrance and forced open the plant
doors. According to the workers, they carried
out a turbine, four jets, and a pick-up truck
filled with tools and spare parts. The Federal
Police then entered the workers plantón (protest
encampment) located near the barricade and stole
a laptop computer that belonged to the
workers. Raul Navarrete, a former Luz y Fuerza
worker who helped staff the barricade, told Narco
News that the computer contained videos, photos,
and texts that documented the workers protest
activities since they were first laid off. At
the time of publication, the police refuse to hand over the laptop.
It is worth pointing out that the Federal Police
receive training and equipment from the United
States through the Merida Initiative under the
auspices of combating drug trafficking.
The situation at the Lechería barricade took a
turn for the worse on January 8. On that day, a
man in a truck showed up at the plantón and
reportedly offered to help the workers re-install
the barricade by dumping gravel in front of the
plant. Before the driver was able to dump the
gravel, Federal Police arrested him and workers
Enrique Mejía García and Sergio David Rodríguez
Martínez. Both workers are adherents to the
Zapatistas Other Campaign and participated in the protest encampment.
The two workers were charged with attempted
sabotage and attempted crimes against the
nations consumption and wealth. The mens
lawyers argued that
government had no basis for the charges because
the alleged crime was never carried out.
Crimes against the nations consumption and
wealth is a serious crime and made the men inelegible for bail.
Because the two detainees are adherents to the
Zapatistas Other Campaign, fellow adherents
mobilized in Mexico City and joined former Luz y
Fuerza workers outside the jails where the two
men were being held. The round-the-clock protest
encampments outside the jailsin which around 50
people participated at any given timewere
effective. The government dropped the charges
against the men and released them on the night of January 13.
The men were reportedly released without any sort
of conditions or negotiations. This is good news
for their former co-workers, who are already
meeting to discuss how to continue their wildcat actions.
Narco News spoke with former Luz y Fuerza worker
Raul Navarrete about his experience in the
wildcat barricade outside the Lechería power plant.
Narco News: What was your position in Luz y Fuerza?
Navarrete: I was a Class A operator in a power
plant in Iztapalapa [in southern Mexico City].
Narco News: How did the wildcat barricade come about?
Navarrete: This barricade was organized by
workers from Lechería. They decided to come and
camp out in protest on December 7. They made the
decision when the CFE and the Federal Police
began to take valuable equipment from the jet
repair workshop in the Lechería power
plant. [The former workers] came out despite the
fact that the SME offered absolutely no
support. So the workers, who are SME members,
got together and set up the protest
encampment. More compañeros who also worked in
that plant in Lechería started to come out. And
thats how they started to organize themselves.
Later, compañeros from the J. Luque
[thermo-electric] plant set up an encampment in
front of that plant, and compañeros from the
unions school also came out. In J. Luque
theres a warehouse that has cables and
transformers. They also got worried and set up a protest encampment.
There's also protest encampments in Tacuba,
Necaxa, Pachuca, Toluca, and
Cuernavaca. Compañeros from our encampment
visited the others to see how they were doing and share experiences.
Narco News: Why were the CFE and the Federal Police taking away the equipment?
Navarrete: We dont know. More than anything
else they were taking out the turbines, which are
used to generate electricity. This worried us
because if we went back to work, we wouldnt have
any equipment to work with. The workshop is for
repairing jet turbines that are worth millions of
dollars. If they take them away, we wont have anything to work with.
Narco News: And the protest encampment didnt receive support from the SME?
Navarrete: No. When they set up the encampment,
[representatives] from the [SME] Local in
Lechería came out and told them to go away. They
told them they couldnt be there. The workers
didnt pay any attention to them and they stayed
so that they wouldnt keep taking out equipment.
Narco News: What are the encampments demands?
Navarrete: An end to the plundering of the [Luz y Fuerza] buildings.
Narco News: How many workers in the Lechería
protest encampment are adherents to the Zapatistas Other Campaign?
Navarrete: TwoSergio and Enrique. Theyre both in jail.
Narco News: Its said that those in the protest
encampments disagree with the SME.
Navarrete: Exactly. Theyve differentiated
themselves from the SME. Of course, they also
respect the SMEs ideas and politics, but their
vision was to come and form a protest
encampment. And not just be there, but inform
people, hold political and cultural events so
that the residents were informed about whats
been going on. And a lot of people were coming
out. The workers in the encampment gave them
information about the situation.
We didnt agree with the SMEor rather, the SME
leadership. They didnt let us camp out in
protestit wasnt permitted. They wont support
us, so we started looking for our own resources,
and for support from the people.
Narco News: What do you think of the latest SME
proposal that the 18,000 Luz y Fuerza workers who
havent accepted their severance packages be
rehired by the CFE and represented by the SME,
presumably with a contract that starts at
zero? Their original demand was a reversal of
Calderons executive order and the re-opening of Luz y Fuerza.
Navarrete: We clearly understand that they wont
give back Luz y Fuerza. Maybe theyll give us a
source of work. Some source of income. But this
is secondary. More than anything else, were
against how all this was carried outthe real
reasons for why Luz y Fuerza was shut down [Narco
News note: There is evidence that
shutdown of Luz y Fuerza has facilitated the
privatization of its fiber optic network, and SME
members are acutely aware of this fact.] And
above all, this blow to Luz y Fuerza workers was
a blow to the working class, to unions. An
injustice was committed against the 44,000 Luz y
Fuerza workersand not just them. Many more
people have been affected. [Most Luz y Fuerza workers were breadwinners.]
In my point of view, from the beginning the
process hasnt been clear. The government says
itll give us work, but thats not going to
happen. So above all, were doing this to defend
our rights. Now its not so much about giving us
back Luz y Fuerza . Its about defending our
rights as workers and as human beings.
We want the government to tell the
truth. Theyve been demonizing us from the
beginningsaying were drunks, drug addicts,
crazies, thiefs, that we dont work. Then they
say that theyre going to hire us back [with the
CFE]. Well, if were bad people and drunks and
lazy bums, why would they rehire us?
Narco News: Do you think they will rehire you?
Navarrete: Look, Ive got some friends who
accepted their severance packages. Three months
have passed, and the government hasnt rehired
them. [The government promised to do its best to
rehire the workers who promptly accepted their
severance packages.] A lot of people who
accepted their severance packages did so for
precisely that reasonso theyd be rehired. They
were desperate. And now they realize that the
government was manipulating them, that it wasnt telling the truth.
I havent accepted my severance package because I
dont agree with how this went down. Moreover,
my severance package doesnt cover all that Im
entitled to. [This criticism is common amongst
former Luz y Fuerza workers, that their severance
packages were poorly calculated and are less than
the amount to which they are legally entitled.]
The government said it was going to give us
two-and-a-half years of our salary. It sounded
like a ton of money, but its not true.
I have a cousin that worked at Luz y Fuerza for
thirteen years. They calculated his severance
package using a much lower salary than what he
was actually getting paid. He accepted his
severance package out of necessity. He has a family; he has children.
The government told so many lies, and people
believed them. People think the government is
giving us a very good severance package, and that
were just fighting for the sake of fighting
because we cant get a job like everyone
else. In my case, Im a computer engineer. Im
still young and I can look for another job. But
theres people who have spent there whole lives
in Luz y Fuerzathey were educated there, as
people and as workers. Theyre 45, 50 years
old. Where are they going to find work?
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