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Mexican Factory Union Postpones Strike In Favor Of Negotiations

Members of a factory union in Ciudad Juárez gathered outside the state labor office on Friday to demand fair representation by authorities.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Members of a factory union in Ciudad Juárez gathered outside the state labor office on Friday to demand fair representation by authorities.

Unionized factory workers in the Mexican border city of Juárez have put off a strike that was planned for Tuesday afternoon and instead will attempt to negotiate directly with company managers at a meeting scheduled for next week.

The workers are former employees at a Juárez factory owned by CommScope, an American telecommunications company. They made fiber optic cables that are vital to cellphone and Internet connections.

Close to 200 workers claim they were fired last year for union activity and are now fighting to get their jobs back. CommScope denies this claim, saying the Juárez factory only fired eight employees last fall for violating work rules. The company employs 3,300 people in Juárez.

The CommScope workers' union was authorized by the state in December and is the only independently organized factory union in the city. It represents a rare challenge to the powerful foreign-factory industry in Mexico.

On Friday, more than 50 union members protested outside the local office of the Chihuahua Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, the state labor authority, and accused officials of favoring corporate interests over worker rights. In response, the state labor secretary has organized a negotiation meeting between the union and company managers in an attempt to settle the ongoing dispute.

The union is asking for higher pay and better working conditions. The average factory worker in Mexico is paid less than $10 dollars a day.