Steel Mills

Workers Initiate Illegal Strike at ArcelorMittal Mexico

Written by Sandy Williams

More than 3,000 workers at ArcelorMittal steel mill Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan, Mexico went on what has been classified as an illegal strike on March 4 to protest job cuts and idled operations. Workers marched in a protest rally and placed red and black flags at the doors of the steel company to announce the work stoppage.

Section 271 of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic has argued that recent layoffs at ArcelorMittal are unjustified and a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

In a company statement, Lazaro Cardenas called the strike an “illegal blockade.” The work stoppage affects the company’s value chain which will make Lazaro “unable to meet commitments to customers and suppliers.”

ArcelorMittal Mexico said it has taken preventive measures to address the “difficult economic environment prevailing in the domestic and international steel industry and to ensure the sustainability of the business.”

In July 2015, Mexican steelmakers Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA), De Acero, Tubacero and ArcelorMittal announced massive layoffs as a result of dumped steel imports and called for stronger enforcement measures on unfairly traded imports. The government has stepped up efforts to address imports with new trade investigations and in October levied a six-month 15 percent tariff increase on steel imports from countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Mexico.

The Undersecretary of Labor, Rafael Avante Juárez, said the Ministry has approached Section as an intermediary to try to find a solution to the illegal work stoppage. Juárez stressed the need for “labor peace.”

The Association of Industries of the State of Michoacan (AIEMAC) urged workers to focus on dialogue and to realize that the domestic steel industry is facing unfair competition from Chinese and Russian imports. Guízar Rogelio Perez, president of the AIMEAC, said tariffs on imported products have been insufficient and have resulted ArcelorMittal’s need to reduce lines of production.

The last strike at ArcelorMittal Mexico was in August 2009 over wages and benefits. The strike lasted about a month and was resolved after workers obtained an 8 percent wage increase and improved benefits package.

Said ArcelorMittal Mexico in a statement, “We regret the union’s decision, and we hope to reach an agreement that allows us to restore normal operations as soon as possible to minimize the impact to all who work in the company, their families, and the community in general, at Lazaro Cardenas.”

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