View of the Canadian-operated Media Luna mine in Mexico’s Guerrero state. United Steelworkers union alleges two striking mine workers were killed near the mine in conflict over labour rights.

View of the Canadian-operated Media Luna mine in Mexico’s Guerrero state. United Steelworkers union alleges two striking mine workers were killed near the mine in conflict over labour rights.
Photo Credit: Torex Gold

United Steelworkers seeks Ottawa’s help for striking Mexican miners at Canadian-operated mine


One of the largest Canadian trade unions is calling on the federal government to intervene with Mexican authorities and a Canadian mining company after two people were killed near a Canadian-operated gold mine in the country’s southern Guerrero state on Saturday.

The United Steelworkers (USW) says the murder of two striking workers underscores the widespread repression of basic labour rights in Mexico even as these fundamental rights are a key part of the proposed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement being renegotiated now.

“On Saturday, November 18 – four days after the Canadian government was warned of the potential for such violence – an armed group murdered two striking workers from the Canadian-owned Media Luna gold mine in the state of Guerrero,” Ken Neumann, the USW’s national director for Canada, said in a statement.

“The root of these brutal murders is the widespread repression of labour rights in Mexico – including by Canadian companies.”

The Media Luna mine is owned by Canada’s Torex Gold Resources.

Corrupt protection unions

In an interview with Radio Canada International, Mark Rowlinson, assistant to Neumann, said Torex Gold has signed an agreement with Mexico’s largest confederation of so-called “protection unions,” the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM).

These “corrupt protection unions” don’t legitimately represent workers and it is common for foreign companies to sign agreements with these unions to prevent workers from joining legitimate unions that will fight for their rights, Rowlinson said.

“These collective agreements are signed without the knowledge of workers at all,” Rowlinson said. “And they are there really to prevent the workers from engaging in collective activity to improve their terms and conditions of employment and being represented by an authentic trade union.”

In early November, workers at the Media Luna mine found out that such a deal had been struck between Torex Gold and CTM and went on strike to demand their right to join the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, also known as Los Mineros, Rowlinson said.

The striking Media Luna miners had set up a peaceful blockade of the mine, he said.

On Nov. 13, the Mexican government sent about 130 armed police officers to try and break up the blockade and secure the mine site.

Concerned about the prospect of violence, USW officials reached out to the federal government and even to Canadian negotiators at the fifth round of NAFTA negotiations in Mexico, asking them to intervene with Mexican authorities, Rowlinson said.

But on the night of Nov. 18, a “group of violent thugs” allegedly affiliated with the CTM attacked the Media Luna strikers at a roadblock the workers had set up near the mine, he said.

Two brothers, Víctor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña, were killed.

The striking workers reported that Mexican authorities briefly detained the attackers, but released them shortly afterwards, according to Los Mineros. The union also alleges that the armed attackers are linked to the same group responsible for the kidnapping and murders of 43 university students in Guerrero state in 2014.

“The Mexican and Canadian governments must intervene to ensure the security of the striking miners at this Canadian-owned mine,” Neumann said. “In view of the violence, the Mexican authorities and the company must immediately recognize Los Mineros as the legitimate bargaining agent and representative of these workers.”

Nothing to do with Torex Gold

Officials at Torex Gold, however, categorically deny that the incident has anything to do with them.

Gabriella Sanchez, vice president of investor relations at the company, said the incident happened in the community of Atzcala, about 15 kilometres away from the Media Luna mine site.

“The two men who were reportedly killed are not company employees,” Sanchez said.

“We believe the victims are a local contractor and his brother. This has nothing to do with the company. We haven’t even been contacted by investigators about it.”

The company also argues that it does not have the authority to change the trade affiliation union of their employees.

“Such changes could only be accomplished through a government sanctioned process that considered the intentions of the majority of unionized employees,” the company said in a press release on Nov. 6.

Officials at Global Affairs Canada could not be reached for comment in time for this publication.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in International, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


One comment on “United Steelworkers seeks Ottawa’s help for striking Mexican miners at Canadian-operated mine
  1. Harry Potts says:

    If you watch the interview with the CEO of Torex Gold, Fred Stanford on BNN.CA, you’ll see there is a huge discrepancy between what the company says and what the press says. Torex is willing to work with whatever union is in place, and the workers signed up for the CTM. It’s unclear what the real motivation for the blockade is, but it doesn’t appear Torex is the one unwilling to move here.