Venezuelan Mitsubishi Workers Protest Further Firings and Government Treatment

October 6th 2010 – On Tuesday Mitsubishi workers in Venezuela protested 307 new dismissal requests by the company. This follows long strikes, occupations, and the killing of two union members last year.

The workers, organised in the union Singetram, said in a statement that 400 of them protested in Anzoátegui state. They marched to various key sites, including the Justice Palace, where they introduced a motion to dismiss the case in which the Labour Ministry fired nine union leaders and two safety delegates.

They also marched past the National Electoral Council (CNE) to request a response to the recognition of their union elections. The CNE responded that they would have a response by Friday.

The last place the unionists visited was the Work Inspectorate, in order to demand a response to the cases of 137 fired workers who have been waiting 6 to 8 months for their re-hiring proceedings to conclude. Singetram said the time period violated a presidential decree and the Work Inspectorate, an office of the Labour Ministry, while taking so long to process the workers’ claims, had accepted requests from Mitsubishi for the creation of a new union and for further dismissals with much more efficiency.

Singetram stated that Labour Minister Maria Iglesias was not responding in a “revolutionary way” to workers’ rights violations and the firings that have occurred at the plant.

While at the Work Inspectorate, the union discovered that there were 307 new dismissal requests by Mitsubishi. As a result, workers maintained a vigil outside the office.

The Singetram statement emphasised that most of its members are “committed” United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) members and publically supported the government party in the recently National Assembly elections.

Workers also claim their collective agreement is being ignored, health and safety conditions are not met and over 200 workers have illnesses caused by the “inhumane work conditions”. They say the company wants to implement contract work, violates workers rights and wants to impose a boss-lead union, with the support of the Labour Ministry. Also, they say the company employs police to threaten and pressure the workers so they quit, and that the media are boycotting their struggle.

Singetram also said that, regarding the 29 January 2009 killing of two workers during a strike, the murderer of Javier Marcano still hasn’t been determined, nor have the intellectual authors of the situation. The union accused the Anzoátegui government of “lacking commitment” regarding the compensation of the families.

Workers began their occupation of the Mitsubishi factory on 12 January 2009. Police tried to disperse workers on 29 January, killing two in the process. The strike and occupation continued through February and March.

In August that year workers were again striking for better conditions and Mitsubishi temporarily closed the plant, citing low productivity and worker unrest. Following that the company filed to fire around 150 workers. There are total of around 1,800 workers at the Mitsubishi factory.

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