A vote took place in Jalisco this past October 15 at the Mexican branch of the Honda transnational, presenting a contest between two unions, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and the STUHM, to win representation in collective bargaining negotiations. Despite the rank-and-file’s sufficient support of STUHM to fight against austerity, the CTM vote prevailed due to rigged elections.
Trade union organisations such as the New Worker Central (NCT), Mexican Union of Electricians (SME), Miners Union, Global Union, United Auto Workers (UAW) from the United States, Mexico City Haulers’ Union, University Workers’ Union (SITUAM), Labor Action and Counseling Center (CILAS), Telephone Operators’ Savings Bank Administrators’ Union (SNTCAT), the SETEAMI (autoworkers’ Union linked to the corrupt CTM) and the Tradoc cooperative were present. The Socialist Workers Movement (MTS) sent delegations to this important event.
Fraud and Irregularities
The elections were full of irregularities.The presence of the federal police inside the building had a significant intimidating effect. Apart from the CTM “thugs” there was also a unit of riot police to cut short any support for the STUHM workers, showing the complicity between Honda, the CTM and the government. Outside the building, the state police got along with the CTM thugs.
Besides a rigged voting ticket where even management could vote, the company engaged in several days of dirty campaigning, claiming that if the STUHM won, the company would be forced to relocate to another state and leave 1,700 workers unemployed. The threat of relocation is a tool transnationals use in order to maintain production with the lowest salaries in the world, with the complicity of the domestic governments.
Another huge irregularity was that there was no registration sheet with the votes, and unexpectedly, dozens of ballots appeared, outnumbering the figures presented at the federal board. This process went as far as breaking the standards set by labor law –which as we know is already against workers and their rights– that require the ballot count be held in a “neutral space.” The federal board shows its complicity with the bosses by allowing the vote to happen inside the company building, which in turn prevented scores of STUHM workers from voting.
The fact that access was denied to the international auditors (legal observers) of the UAW confirms that in this country, we the workers can’t expect anything from the state, their laws and especially the Federal Board of Conciliation and Arbitration.
The election, fraudulent and full of irregularities, rendered a lead of 117 votes in favor of the corrupt SETEAMI. We, the Socialist Workers Movement (MTS) back the STUHM’s decision to legally challenge the results and consider this an essential moment in the fight for independent unionism and against Honda’s CTM. But at the same time, we consider that the key is a return to mobilization to which all legal action must be subordinated. This is the only way to win demands for Honda workers and resist this fraudulent process.
We believe that those organizations that consider themselves to be democratic should focus all their efforts on supporting the Honda workers. Labor confederations opposed to the government do not actually support these important fights; they go no further than releasing statements, giving speeches and offering token support. Honda workers and those involved in other struggles should learn from this experience and turn them into a winning strategy. No more isolated fights!
We call on all the organisations that participated in this journey to organize a wide militant meeting in solidarity with the STUHM and support all actions undertaken by the brave Honda workers. This would be a step forward on the path to developing the coordination and unity of the working class against employers, corrupt union bureaucrats, and the government. Not one step back!