Lexmark workers protest in Ciudad Juárez. Lexmark workers protest in Ciudad Juárez.

Workers let go after strike for 6-peso raise

Lexmark employees in Ciudad Juárez also sought to unionize

Over 100 workers were laid off at a Lexmark plant in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, after going on strike for two days to press for a daily wage increase of 6 pesos, or US $0.35.

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They sought the increase, from 114 to 120 pesos, for more experienced workers, but the company rejected the demand in October.

Discontent among workers had been brewing for months, with reports of harassment, unfair wage deductions and unsafe work conditions as well as poor wages.

On November 3, a group of 78 employees submitted a formal request to the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration of the state of Chihuahua to start a union.

Some workers claim that’s when Lexmark began using harassing measures against them, such as paying the 120-pesos salary to new employees and to senior staff who had not protested.

It was those measures that prompted the strike by about 700 workers on December 7 and 8, said Susana Prieto, the lawyer representing them.

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Two days later, Lexmark laid off about 120 of the striking workers for “violations to the factory’s code of conduct.” The 78 who had attempted to set up the union were among those dismissed.

Prieto declared that the layoffs suggested collusion between the company and the state government, as only the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration had the list of those who had made the request to unionize.

Government officials have publicly defended the company and accused labor organizers of self-interest, suggesting that a strike was not the right way to improve conditions.

“Strikes promoted in Ciudad Juárez are nothing but extortion measures by union leaders, who seek their own benefit. They not only harm businesses but the workers themselves,” said Labor Secretary Fidel Pérez Romero.

Lexmark spokesman Jerry Grasso said in a statement, “We take our values of mutual respect and employee satisfaction very seriously. We are committed to engaging in open and honest conversations with our employees to ensure Lexmark continues to be a rewarding place to work.”

Meanwhile, an unfair dismissal complaint will be lodged before the conciliation board this week, said Prieto.

This year has seen a wave of protests by factory workers in Ciudad Júarez amid growing unrest over low pay, harsh conditions and workers’ rights which campaigners say haven’t improved in decades.

Júarez is the hub of Mexico’s manufacturing sector, with around 300,000 factory workers but no independent unions. U.S.-based companies are drawn to the city by tax benefits, low transportation costs due to its proximity to the border and low wages.

Lexmark is a U.S.-based manufacturer of laser printers and other products. Its sales last year totaled US $3.7 billion and it employs 12,700 people worldwide.

Source: The Guardian (en), Zeta (sp)

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  • AgesOfReason

    Lexmark, when this gets out, you will have trouble selling banana peels.

    • Dan Tucker

      One can hope this will happen. I will join those disgusted enough to find other brands thank Lexmark. NAFTA opened the door and greedy American companies flooded Mexico to take advantage of the Mexican people and reap more profits. Shame on them. The common Mexican worker has a tough row to hoe.

      • Michael C

        Dan, you summed it up perfectly!

  • kallen

    If you’re going to be stupid you better be tough. If you have no other skills then why the heck are you striking?

    • Beau

      How dare you criticize these poor people for demanding better pay? Shame on you and your stupid comment.

      • kallen

        What? Poor people can’t be stupid? Stupidity is socio-economic class agnostic.

        • Beau

          So you are saying that poor people are stupid because their social economic background is different?

          • kallen

            No, I’m not saying that. Agnostic in this context means stupidity doesn’t differentiate between smart or stupid, rich or poor.

          • michael grosser

            Again Kallen, a big SIEG HEIL shoutout to you and yours….Heil H***er!!

  • Diane Hulen

    Lexmark may not be the only bad employer, but it is the one I know now, so will avoid buying their products.

  • Glen Olives

    How dare workers strike in protest for a living wage. The temerity! With a profit of $3.7 billion, Lexmark can’t pay a modest demand of $.35 per hour? Are the unions over reaching, demanding too much? Of course not. In the interests of cheap, exploited labor, Lexmark has created its own PR nightmare. By the way, their printer’s suck.

    • Douglas Whiteside

      Glen, it was not $.35 per hour, it was $.35 PER DAY.

      • Glen Olives

        Thank you. I stand corrected.

    • kallen

      There is a global thread here. The world’s organized labor movements have been boo-hoo-ing the poor and downtrodden being taking advantage of by those awful rich capitalists. It is so tedious to hear. I wish they would grow-up. If you don’t like your lot in life, don’t blame others, get an education or at least make sure your kids get one so they don’t repeat your failings. Face it: poverty is often self induced.

      • Glen Olives

        Of course you’re right. How dare these unskilled, unwashed, laboring savages who are too lazy or stupid to invest in a college degree, demand a nickel more a day? Don’t they realize what a privilege it is to work for a Fortune 500 company? I don’t think they should be payed at all.

        • kallen

          I live part time in Mexico. I see it all the time. Juan Doe has 4 kids by the time he’s in his early 20s. Don’t tell me he doesn’t know about condoms or birth control cause he’s got a cell phone. Don’t tell me he doesn’t have the money cause he’s got money to have a cerveza at lunch. Its called taking responsibility for your life.

          • Geraldine Pugh

            Do you know how much 120 pesos a DAY is? I live in Mexico, and I do not understand how people could possibly live on this. How are you supposed to give your kids an education with that kind of money? Can you pay for them to go to a good school? Everyone has the right to a living wage, whatever their skill level is. Someone needs to do those jobs.

          • kallen

            Right to a living wage? Says who? Listen @Geraldine + @Glen: I applaud your efforts to stick up for the poor but humanity and indeed the world is at an inflection point. It cannot support the population currently on its surface let alone one that will double by 2070 sometime. We are entering uncharted territory and morally, nobody has the right to breed indiscriminately anymore, especially if they can’t feed the little ones they bring into this world otherwise we will all be doomed – we just don’t have the resources – don’t you get it? Business as usual will make this world unlivable. If we don’t cull our herd, nature will do it for us and it will not be pretty. Other life forms on this planet are going extinct because we’re too populous and those other life forms are real and they too have rights to exist. Its time to think outside the box and not just think about humans. I would be in favor of paid payments to young adults for reversible/temporary sterilization. The payments would be paid for by developed countries. Once they become economically viable they can have it reversed for the same payment that was made to them.

          • michael grosser

            Sieg Heil, Kallen, SIEG HEIL !!

          • kallen

            Is that how you trolls operate Michael? Don’t like someone’s opinion so you browbeat them on the internet. You and your type are the problem.

          • michael grosser

            Hey ur a pretty good browbeater urself ol gal…..you sure kicked off in the Mex ass…eugenics anyone? Forced (subsidized) sterilization!! I stand by SIEG HEIL to you my dear one.

          • michael grosser

            You are straight up spooky, Girl Friend. Have a Nice Day!

          • Glen Olives

            Dear Ann Coulter: Yes, the working poor (often 2 jobs) are irresponsible and deserve to live in the dystopia they themselves created. Perhaps they should be sterilized. There must be some way to eliminate them from the gene pool. At minimum, we should strictly control how many children they have, and what they purchase to eat and drink (tortillas are okay but definitely no seafood). Cars should be out of the question — that’s why god invented buses. The only people deserving of a minimally dignified life are the college educated: all others should be eventually eliminated. But then again, who would make our printers and iPhones?

          • Beau

            What the hell are you living in Mexico if you are so critical about it’s people ? Maybe because your social security income goes a long way in Mexico. You are no better than Lexmark.

          • kallen

            I’m not singling out Mexico. In fact, the majority of the rest of the world, especially the 3rd world – is just like Mexico. You look around and you see the world in a pickle and you have to ask yourself why? What is the explanation – there has to be one? Illud consequens, my feelings illustrated here.

            BTW, I’m still of working age.

          • Classifying all Mexicans into one group is neither fair nor logical. Most of the young people I know in Mexico are choosing to have fewer children. This is against the dictates of the church which still holds a terrible sway in Mexico. There are mistakes in Mexico as there are in the U.S.–especially among the very young. Telling kids to use condoms? Yeah. That works perfectly. Ironically enough, there are fewer panhandlers and beggars in Mexico than in the U.S. People tend to care for their own. Also no cases of kids walking into schools and shooting their classmates or adults going into army bases or McDonald’s and performing mass executions. America is broken, folks, and part of it is our insistence that everything we do is right and that countries such as Mexico are doing everything wrong. They have free medical coverage for even the poorest here and very cheap insurance for the employed. Yes, people celebrate and even drink Cerveza–There is a joy here that is remarkable given the conditions they live under not by choice but because in Mexico as everywhere, big business owners want more more more without considering those who help them make their products.

      • Not much chance of kids from poor families getting an education in Mexico for although the classes are free, the uniforms and books and school supplies aren’t. Many of us who live in Mexico support one or more students, but for those who don’t happen to know a gringo or whose parents don’t apply to many of the organizations that seek to help them, there is not a chance to “get an education.” If they live in an area where gringos don’t congregate….forget it! Let’s not blame the oppressed. I’ve lived here for 14 years and have never met more hard-working people.

    • Mimi Lindborg Jove

      And that request was per DAY not per hour. A**holes.

  • michael grosser

    Hey, six pesos here, six pesos there…..pretty soon ur tawkin about sum “Real Money”…….

  • Three score and ten

    My reaction is to never buy from Lexmark, an easy and mostly meaningless decision. We who read this and comment on it do so because we have an interest in Mexico and probably live here. The sad thing is that if we were as aware of the wage and working condition issues associated with Apple and hundreds of other American high-tech companies with plants in foreign countries, we would never buy anything.

  • ironseller

    Lets all refuse to buy Lexmark – my experience is a bit inferior product anyway.

  • Citizens of the United States, ever wonder why your products are so cheap? This is why: worker exploitation. Your privilege is a direct result of the oppressions of others.

  • Douglas Whiteside

    According to Morningstar, in 2014, Lexmark’s top six executives took home a combined $16 million in total compensation. I would have cost Lexmark just over $10,000 per year to pay 120 workers an additional $0.35 per day. I guess those top six Lexmark execs could not afford to give up one six hundredth of a percent of their pay to keep 120 people working.

  • Shame on you Lexmark. I will never buy another of your products. 120 pesos is a salary of $7 U.S. per day!!!! Try feeding a family on that even in Mexico, let alone the 35 cents less you pay. The greedier get greedier in this world and the poor get hungrier. When will this stop?????

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