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Striking workers in Matamoros. Striking workers in Matamoros.

Tamaulipas strike losses now estimated at US $500 million

Manufacturers have been unable to meet their production and export commitments

Strikes in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, have generated losses of around half a billion dollars, according to a business group.

Luis Aguirre Lang, president of the National Council of the Maquiladora Industry (Index Nacional), said “the illegal stoppages and the cancellation of some orders” have cost businesses between US $500 million and $600 million.

He explained that manufacturing companies have been unable to meet their production and export commitments and that some have been forced to cancel their investment and expansion plans.

Thousands of workers in the northern border city have gone on strike over the past two months to demand pay raises of 20% and the payment of a 32,000-peso (US $1,700) annual bonus.

Most companies agreed to the demands but some decided to shut down their operations instead.

Two companies announced last week that they were closing their three steel mills in response to the strikes, leaving 400 workers out of a job.

Chinese automotive manufacturer Joyson Safety Systems shut down its Matamoros factory last month and aerospace engineering company Parker Hannifin has done the same. The two companies employed a combined total of more than 1,500 people.

Another six to 12 companies are in the process of deciding whether they will continue to operate in Matamoros, Aguirre said.

He added that there have also been strikes in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Agua Prieta, Sonora. However, the job action in those cities didn’t prove to be contagious as it did in Matamoros.

“. . . The other illegal stoppages were shorter and they reached agreements very quickly,” Aguirre said.

The strikes in Tamaulipas were cited by the Bank of México last month as one reason why it reduced its growth forecast for the Mexican economy in 2019 to between 1.1% and 2.1%, a 0.6% cut at both ends of the range.

Aguirre and Enrique Larios Díaz, president of the College of Labor Law Professors at the National Autonomous University (UNAM), warned last month that strikes will likely spread to other parts of the country.

Workers are “waking up” to their working conditions and, in turn, taking action against the abuses of both their employers and their unions, the latter said.

Among those who have shown signs of awakening are employees of big-box retail chain Walmart who earlier this month threatened strike action if demands for a 20% pay increase as well as other benefits and better conditions were not met.

However, the strike that was to have commenced on March 20 was avoided as a result of an agreement between Walmart and the workers’ union that offered employees an average annual pay increase of 5.5% and a productivity bonus linked to company sales.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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