With Enrique Ramos, of STIASRM

Strike Temporarily Lifted

to Continue Negotiations



A strike broke out last November 16 with the essential goal of obtaining the retirement benefits due to more than 3,000 workers who are waiting for the industry to give them the right they are entitled to under the 1998 Retirement Regulations upon reaching the age of 60 and completing 35 years of service. The conflict is now entering a new stage of negotiations, with a new deadline that expires January 20, 2007. If by that date no agreement has been reached the strike will be reinitiated.



-What were the obstacles hindering negotiations?

-Management wanted us to first of all discuss the wage increase, and then all other contractual matters, leaving to a committee the consideration of the issue of retirement benefits, which in their proposal was to be dealt with last. Seeing that it was taking too long to come to an agreement and that the term for negotiations was coming to an end, we sought an extension to continue discussions. We thought it was time to bring fresh wind to this negotiation, so we’ve decided to extend the term, but only until January 20, 2007 –management wanted to push it to the 31st of that month-, to reach an agreement on retirement benefits, which will continue to be the first and foremost issue of our mobilization.


-Why January 20?

-That date was not chosen on a whim, but rather marks the point at which the 58 sugar mills of the 15 Mexican states are milling at 100 percent of their capacity, as opposed to the situation now, where only three mills are working at that capacity. If by that date we have not secured the industry’s agreement to pay the retirement benefits, the strike will break out again.


-What was the response of the workers to the strike?

-We can proudly say that our entire union observed the strike. Not one single worker went in to work at any of the mills covered by this strike which, I repeat, involved 58 mills throughout the country. Moreover, and as proof that this break is not caused by our being worn down or discouraged, we’ve obtained full payment of the wages and benefits corresponding to the days we were on strike.


-How was the strike affected by the fact that simultaneously the Third Latin American Conference of Sugar Industry Workers was taking place in Mexico City?

-The Conference came at a very good time, because sugar workers from all the other countries of Latin America agreed to fully support our union. And the hundreds of telegrams and e-mails that were sent to the Presidency of the Republic, as well as to the Ministries of Labor and of Agriculture, signaled to us that we were in a position of great strength to grant this extension. We’ve roared, and we might still show all our claws. Negotiations will continue as of next week, but today, Tuesday the 28th, we will meet with the Minister of Labor of the incoming government, Javier Lozano Alarcón.


-How did international solidarity contribute to this conflict?

-I’d like to emphasize in particular that the Sugar Union really can’t thank IUF affiliates enough for their solidarity. This shows how the Latin American Federation of Sugar Industry Workers, despite having just been created in the recent Thirteenth Conference of Rel-UITA, already has a great capacity for joint mobilization and action. And once more, I want to stress the timeliness of the Third Conference and the decision of the Regional Office to stand by us during this conflict, to the point that our regional secretary, Gerardo Iglesias, is still here in Mexico.




Eduardo Esquivel


In his capacity as coordinator of the Union of Bottling Industry Workers of Mexico (STIE), Esquivel participated in the Third Latin American Conference of Sugar Industry Workers that was held from November 22 to 24 in Mexico City. In his speech he referred to the sugar strike as follows:


“Fellow workers: we are very concerned over the conflict and strike that is being carried out by our fellow union, STIASRM. But I also want to say that, at the same time, I’m very reassured. And the reason I’m not worried is because this union is headed by our fellow worker Enrique Ramos, who is one of the last leaders still in activity from a generation that marked an era in our country. Enrique is a fighter, a tireless worker. He was never one to be seen at parties and banquets, but traveling from one end of the union’s territory to the other, permanently standing by its workers, sharing their fate, their hardships and their joys. We are confident that ‘Quique’ Ramos will give his all to make this mobilization of sugar mill workers a success. And we’re sure it will be a success.”


Carlos Amorín

© Rel-UITA

November 28, 2006

Carlos Amorín




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