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Defiant miners in Tamaulipas. Defiant miners in Tamaulipas.

400 miners join Tamaulipas strikes; Walmart workers announce job action

Demand for 20% pay increase, 32,000-peso bonus has become the gold standard for unions

More workers are going on strike in an effort to match salary increases and bonuses already granted to workers at maquiladoras, or factories, in Tamaulipas.

Some 400 miners at Siderúrgica del Golfo in Matamoros walked off the job yesterday while Walmart employees have announced a strike on Monday. All are demanding a salary increase of 20% and a bonus payment of 32,000 pesos (US $1,700),

Miners’ union president Javier Zúñiga said that even though miners receive some of the highest salaries in Matamoros, workers feel they are owed an increase in their earnings because of the physical demands and risks the work necessitates.

“The majority of the workers decided to strike, and as a union we decided to support them. In the mining industry, we have always had the best salaries. Due to salary increases and the continuing fight by [other] workers, they have caught up to us.”

Tens of thousands of workers in various industries in Matamoros have walked off the job in recent weeks. Over the weekend, nearly 30 employees at a Coca-Cola distribution plant that recently closed its doors due to work stoppages were seen offering to wash cars for 30 pesos (US $1.50). Drivers lined up for several blocks to support the striking workers.

Meanwhile, a union that represents workers at Walmart México announced that a strike will begin on Monday in 10 states to press for a 20% salary increase and better conditions for the 8,000 workers it represents.

The union also hopes to set up a sales commission program that would pay employees 4% for every sale they make. The union also alleged that employees often did not receive compensation for extra hours worked and cited other abuses, such as sexual assault by managers.

A Walmart spokesperson told the news agency Reuters that the company saw talks with the union as positive, though they countered that the allegations of abuse were without foundation.

Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Farmers (CROC) representative Eduardo Miranda said that talks will continue until March 5, though he added that after three meetings with union leaders, Walmart has yet to come up with a new salary proposal.

Source: El Universal (sp), El Financiero (sp)

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