The unjustified dismissal of close to 50 workers from the EATON maquiladora in Juarez City, in response to demands for a fair dividend for profit shares, has forced 38 workers into an indefinite sit-in, as of June 9th, to demand reinstatement, payment of lost wages, a fair profit-share dividend, and arising from the needs of this fight, an independent union to look out for the interests of the workers at the maquiladora. On Friday 19th, the forty-ninth worker was fired after shouting “Strike!”, interrupting production at the middle of the line, and joining his co-workers’ resistance.
The workers have proven their great organizational skills, wearing red shirts embossed with the words “I choose zero abuses”; they have maintained their sit-in on the sidewalk outside the factory for two-weeks now, even as temperatures reach around 40 degrees Celsius. They can be seen at Hermanos Escobar Avenue and Rafael Pérez Serna leafleting, flying their banners, and calling for solidarity with their struggle.
The response of the workers inside the factory has begun to worry management. There have been some intermittent stoppages in solidarity with the workers’ sit-in. The first of these was for two hours this past Friday, and it was led by the only 20 women employed in the plant. To discourage workers from interrupting production, management has instructed the personnel department to disqualify the workers arbitrarily dismissed for demanding their rights. [Translators’ Nota Bene, “disqualification” can adversely affect the possibility of a settlement for the dismissed workers under Mexican labor law.]
During shift changes the “EATON-49” flyer the surrounding maquiladoras, and when the EATON workers are driven out on buses at full speed, they throw flyers through the windows.
During these days of working-class resistance, production operators from other factories come to leave burritos and beverages for their peers. Transport workers toot their horns in solidarity, and gradually the camp is being strengthened by solidarity from neighbours, social organizations, and more broadly a citizenry who is sympathetic to the cause of the maquiladora workers, who have seen how the purchasing power of wages has fallen by more than 100% over the last 7 years, even as workers’ rights vanish and the authorities approve the exploitive conditions under which hundreds of thousands labor.
It is interesting to note that this small spark of workers’ power at a Juarez City maquiladora has unnerved representatives of management from nearby factories, who within the last few days have made significant changes to working conditions, introducing improvements such as air conditioning (Juarez City is in a desert) in the cafeteria, as well as better treatment of the operators on the production lines.
EATON Management has maintained an arrogant attitude, refusing to receive the workers and their legal representative, the lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas, who has maintained an admirable, supportive attitude, standing in resistance with the workers all these days.
The press in this area of the border has offered only sketchy coverage, and in the case of local Channels 44 and 5, the editorial line is clearly oriented towards discrediting the workers’ struggle and brazenly refers to the strike as being manipulative.
In terms of social media, solidarity and coverage of the EATON workers’ demands is being developed by a network, which is currently promoting the march organized by the workers and their families for Monday June 22, at 2:30 pm, starting from the intersection of Gomez Morin Avenue and JM Bermudez, and marching towards the offices of the Maquiladoras Association A.C. (daily index, A.M.A.C.).
In recent years maquiladora workers have had no alternative solutions to a growing number of ignored grievances, from unfair dismissal of workers after earning seniority or becoming disabled or pregnant, to theft of profit share dividends, or excessively long hours, to a lack of collective bargaining, subcontracting without benefits, and increasingly meager subsistence wages. The most recent example of the abusive conditions workers endure includes the case of the Chinese maquiladora FOXCONN, located in Santa Teresa, on the outskirts of the city, where in an act of desperation the men and women workers, who were being forced to work double shifts without receiving transportation to and from the plant, tried to burn down the maquiladora; dozens of them were fired, and the authorities never initiated any proceedings against the owners. Similarly, another example of collusion by the authorities, who protect the capital invested in the large industrial plants along the border, is offered by the case of the explosion at the Maquila Blueberry candy factory, where it is still not known how many workers died as a result of a boiler explosion, even after the workers themselves had raised safety concerns. Other events of a similar nature have raised the ire of the workers, but until now they have patiently waited for the competent authorities to grant them justice.
The response of the EATON workers, although incipient, marks a qualitative change in the way workers react against the overwhelming power of the employers. Not since the eighties have the workers taken on the challenges of fighting directly for their rights, taking up historically proven methods, and combining them with a media strategy, social networking, and networking with organizations to build solidarity with their struggle.
The struggle by EATON Workers Fight Back is the struggle of revolutionary socialists; the Committee of Sympathizers of the Fourth International issues a call to strengthen their fight and to join side by side with them in their effort to win justice for all Maquiladora workers.
EAOTN Workers, Unite!
We call on all to support the march organized by the workers and their families for Monday June 22nd, at 2:30 PM, starting from the intersection of Gomez Morin Avenue and JM Bermudez, and marching towards the offices of the Maquiladora Association A.C. (daily index, A.M.A.C.).
COMMITTEE OF SYMPATHIZERS OF THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL IN MEXICO
The Colima Anticapitalist Collective
Militants of the Fourth in Mexico City
The Revolutionary Socialist League
The Socialist Unity Movement
South Wing Chihuahua