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Mexican judicial workers protest
On October 16 and 17, federal judicial workers carried out marches and rallies throughout Mexico, protesting cuts in government benefits to the workers.
Protests took place in Mexico City, and in the states of Morelos, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Michoacán, Veracruz and Jalisco.
The mass demonstrations are a response to a decision by the Lopez Obrador administration to cut 13 out of 14 benefits enjoyed by the court and other federal employees up to now, including subsidized transportation, gasoline allowances, and reduced highway tolls. The cuts add up to US$859 million in 2024. The AMLO administration argues that the benefits involved are “economic benefits of privilege.” The president insists that lower level court workers would not be affected.
However, the Supreme Court acknowledged that at least six of the 14 benefits are obligations that are necessary to guarantee workers social security rights. These include pensions, housing, health coverage, and retirement rights.
In Mexico City and other states, workers rallied at the federal legislature and blocked traffic throughout the city. At one protest in Mexico City, workers burned in effigy a large doll made to look like President Lopez Obrador.
Protests will continue this Tuesday.
Protests continue in Panama over the opening of copper mine
Last Saturday, the Construction Workers Union called for popular protests against a copper mine agreement approved the day before by the administration of president Laurentino Cortizo. The agreement is with Minera Panama, a mining company owned by First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian firm.
Reacting to the agreement, a coalition of labor unions and environmental and student organizations organized a rally at the legislature.
Saul Mendez, leader of the Construction Workers Union, likened the agreement to Panama’s surrendering control of the Panama Canal in 1903 and called for mass protests and strikes against the agreement.
72-hour protest-strike by Argentine government workers
On Wednesday, October 18, municipal and provincial employees in Santa Fe Province carried out a 72-hour strike demanding wages that keep up with Argentina’s hyperinflation. The workers also rallied at government offices in the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario and other cities, and blocked roads as part of the protest-strike.
Teachers rally in Buenos Aires Province
In Buenos Aires Province, education workers rallied last Thursday in the provincial capital of La Plata to demand the right to strike and an end to wage cuts for strike days, and higher wages that keep up with hyperinflation.
Striking teachers also repudiated the complicity of the educators’ unions with the Peronist provincial government, which have gone along with recent anti-strike legislation.
The teachers occupied the offices of the Labor Ministry for several hours.
As the teachers were leaving the building, Buenos Aires police arrested two of the demonstrators, charging them with damaging the Labor Ministry building. The demonstrators responded with a rally at police headquarters, forcing the release of the arrested teachers.
Buffalo, New York, machinists reject tentative agreement, launch strike
Workers walked off the job at J.M. Smucker’s Milk-Bone plant in Buffalo, New York, October 16, after rejecting a tentative agreement and refusing to extend the old contract. The strikers are comprised of electricians, mechanics, oilers and pipefitters, who are members of the International Association of Machinists Lodge 330.
Workers voted down a company offer by 90 percent that included annual raises of 8, 3 and 3 percent, which strikers complained had already been eaten up by inflation. Instead, workers are demanding an overall 20 percent wage increase over three years, with an initial 13 percent wage hike in the first year of the contract.
On day three of the strike, police were summoned to the plant after a car struck a striking worker on the picket line.
The company boasted that production continues at the struck plant as the 40 striking workers represent only a portion of the 277 workers at the Buffalo plant. The remaining workers are represented by two other unions.
“We will also maintain production of our Milk-Bone dog snacks at our Topeka, Kansas, manufacturing facility, as well as several co-packers,” said a company statement.
Strike at Maine pulp mill over destruction of job classifications
A third union walked off the job October 16 joining two unions that struck over the weekend at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine. All three unions are protesting a company proposal to tear up classifications for millwrights, pipefitters, machinists and auto mechanic positions and substitute a general mechanic classification.