Photo: La Izquierda Diario Mexico
A week has passed since a group of workers fighting for better working conditions set up their protest camp at the gates of the EATON Corporation. Up until this day, the 38 ex-employees have stood their ground in the surrounding area of the industrial ship built on the border town of Juarez, Mexico.
In the midst of isolation and the lack of interest from the corporation, the dissatisfied workers, who have been legally counseled by Lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas and her assistants, keep fighting for what they believe is a just cause that goes beyond their own interests and is a fight that embraces the anger of hundreds of thousands of workers that live in the same conditions throughout the city.
The situation of the 38 workers has worsened due to the company’s efforts to remove them from the surrounding grounds. For fighting for better working conditions, they have also been blacklisted from the local Maquiladora consortium, which will make it nearly impossible for the workers to get a job in any of the hundreds of factories throughout the city.
There´s also the issue of the conditions at the camp: EATON won´t let the workers use the bathrooms located on site, there have been attempts by the security guards to disband their camp with the use of violence, the exit timetables of the factory have been changed in an attempt to disrupt the distribution of leaflets to other company workers, and bus drivers try to scare them with threats of running them over, they even damaged the car of a member of the legal team. If that wasn’t enough, a local media channel has stopped all coverage of the news surrounding EATON and has started a smear campaign against the workers on strike.
Nevertheless, the workers have received help from the community in the form of money and food. Surrounding businesses have also helped the camp by allowing them to use their bathrooms. Because the company has stopped paying them, the workers have started a collection campaign in many of the city’s busy streets in order to raise money to sustain the camp and feed their families. The collection campaigns in solidarity with the workers are at 6:00 AM, when the first shift starts at the factory, and at 3:30 PM when the first shift ends.
For an independent Union
More than the immediate demands, which are the reincorporation of the 38 to the company and their pay for the days that they worked, what the workers at EATON really want is to build an independent union that embraces their own interests in a city where disenfranchised industrial workers live a precarious lifestyle. In order to achieve their goals, they have asked for support from their brothers and sisters inside and outside the company, and they are calling for a labor strike.
The lawyer Susana Prieto and her assistants have proceeded with a solid defense, advising the workers in legal matters at every step and going as far as to live in the same conditions as the striking workers, which entails dealing with hunger and scorching temperatures of 40°C that the people at the camp have to endure every day. The Lawyer has appealed to various legal resources such as the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, but EATON has constantly postponed meeting with the legal team in an attempt to wear out the movement. Nevertheless, the workers carry on with the support and encouragement that characterizes the proletarian struggle; the workers say that they will not give up until they have succeeded with their objectives.
Even though the conditions and isolation of the camp is evident, the fight of the EATON 38 has paid off. Since the start of the protest, the factory conditions have been improved: they have installed AC and drinking fountains, the transportation service has improved, and workers are no longer forced to work extra hours. The conditions have also been changed at other EATON factories through the city.
On June 17th, the EATON 38 received the support and solidarity of various organizations and local activists, like the teachers of RESISSSTE, members of the Ayotzinapa Juarez Front, and militants of the Revolutionary Socialist League (LSR), the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) and the Movement of Workers for Socialism (MTS). During the meeting, the lawyer explained the factory workers’ situation.
The solidarity groups have put out a call for the organization and the support of all the struggles of the working class that are currently happening throughout the country. In the meeting, many struggles were mentioned, like the one in San Quintin and the struggle of workers of the former Luz y Fuerza state owned electric company. During the meeting, a proposal was made for the creation of an assembly that would take place June 19th, contingent on the workers’ acceptance of the proposal. In this assembly, the logistics and further actions will be discussed with the sole objective of getting a complete victory for the workers and to accomplish it as soon as possible.
It is important to point out that the fight of the EATON 38 is taking place during a critical time not only politically but economically throughout Mexico. Thus, we have to raise our voices so that their demands are heard and embraced by the working class not only in Mexico but throughout the world. If the fight at EATON is successful in Ciudad Juarez, the forefront of the Maquiladora Industry, and the people learn about the exploitation of the workers that takes place every day, it would be a victory for all the proletariat. This is why we have to give all of our support to this little spark of the working class that could become a great fire in the future. From Izquierda Diario we demand once more: No more firing of workers! The immediate reinstatement of the EATON 38!
Translation Miguel Díaz