Thursday, October 22, 2009

Military and Federal Police "Kidnap" Electricians to Put them to Work

Federal Agents Take Them By Force to Power Stations with Problems

by Patricia Muñoz and Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada
reposted from Narco News

Workers "are being kidnapped" by federal forces in order to force them to "cooperate" with the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in power stations that have problems providing electricity to customers, denounced the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

"The federal government's disgrace and desperation has become intolerable, and our patience is wearing thin" because the Federal Police (PF) and the Military go to workers' homes to "detain them and force them to work in order to confront the widespread power outages that the CFE engineers have been completely incapable of resolving," said SME spokesman Fernando Amezcua.

In its third day of struggle against the shutdown of Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LFC), the union warned that the federal government is also trying to accuse the union of acts of "sabotage" in order to take legal action against movement leaders.

In this series of actions that they describe as intimidation, they also warned that the Ministry of Energy is sending "invitations" to workers' homes to pressure them to accept a severance package. These documents point out that there will only be an additional bonus for those "who accept severance before November 14."

The leaders said that, faced with this threat, they are prepared to file over 66,000 individual injunctions on behalf of active and retired workers against the presidential decree that left them unemployed.

Even when the SME's protest in front of Congress was cancelled because the Secretary of Labor, Javier Lozano, did not go to San Lazaro [where Congress meets], rank-and-file workers protested on their own accord, and yesterday they carried out a full day of actions in the country's central zone.

Around the union headquarters, workers held informational rallies all day in order to communicate to all workers that they should not accept the envelopes with their severance packages that the CFE is sending to their homes; they organized by local in order to spread information and flier; they intermittently blocked Insurgentes Ave.; and they set up registration tables for the injunctions.

Inside the headquarters, the work of lobbying and coordinating solidarity became tense when news arrived of "persecution, harassment, and attempted kidnappings" of union workers in order to force them to work on the automated network that supplies [Mexico City's] Historical Center, on electric poles, and also in substations.

That is why, at about 5pm, some of the union leaders moved to housing located in Cuautitlan in the State of Mexico. Juan Antonio Gomez was one of the workers that federal police tried to take by force. For that reason his compañeros had to hide him, says Amezcua. He says that such harassment has occurred in neighborhoods where many electricians live, such as La Aurora, Las Garzas, La Piedad, and San Juan de Aragon.

He pointed out that these actions mean that the CFE directors' and [President] Felipe Calderon's claim that electrical service is working as normal is a lie.

Moreover, workers from the Cables-Bolivar area denounced that engineers are being offered 25 thousand pesos to go to stations that have problems, such as Coapa and Taxqueña. "But there's no scabs here." They mentioned engineer Carlos Guerra as one of those who received the financial offer.

In yesterday's protest, a "guide to personal resistance strategies" was distributed because the struggle will be long and difficult. They call upon the electrical workers to not succumb to the "carrot of rehire."

The guide points out that even with empty pockets, workers have their dignity and will not accept "stale crusts in the form of bonuses." It proposes that the union workers reduce their family expenses and try to find interim work. It also suggests that, for the moment, they sell some of their assets, such as their cars, in order to pay debts or credits and that they hold garage sales.

They announced that a collection site has already been opened to receive the solidarity and help that organizations wish to send. The collection site is located in the SME's Technical School in Lisboa 46, colonia Juarez. Help began to arrive yesterday.

In the morning assembly some electricians' wives organized themselves to look for Felipe Calderon's wife, Margarita Zavala, to request that she intervene in their problem. Thursday's march is also being organized; the union has requested that protesters not bring their children because it cannot rule out the presence of infiltrators nor repression.

This morning a rumor circulated that the union had issued a communique where it allegedly claimed that 21 workers sent by the CFE to operate LFC power stations had died. However, the SME denied that it had sent out that information.

Translated for Narco News by Kristin Bricker

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