Image credits: Sharon Loxton
News Article

Unionized Fertinal Workers Go on Strike

By Fernando Mares | Tue, 09/06/2022 - 13:02

A week after the general strike at a Fertinal plant in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, members of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Iron, Steel and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM) went out on the streets of Lazaro Cardenas to protest for better labor conditions.

Members of SNTMMSRM Section 274 stated that the strike that started on Aug. 26, 2022 is justified since the company violated their collective working bargaining agreement. Workers also accused the company of not meeting the minimum safety conditions in its plant. 

Despite these problems, workers could outdo the production goals set by the company, whose executives argue has not made any profit in 2021. According to Ramón Monsiváis, Secretary of Labor, SNTMMSRM, there has not been any contact with Fertinal’s directors. He said the leaders declined to meet with workers last week and committed to set a date to hold another meeting, which at the time of writing has not yet been set. 

Monsiváis said that the leadership of PEMEX, the state oil company that owns Fertinal, told the Federal Board of Conciliation that its facilities are in optimal conditions. He said that the company aims to stop the union’s lawsuit. Monsiváis added that authorities have not ruled on the company’s claim yet. 

On July 15, 2022, President López Obrador announced an investment of US$218 million to double the production capacity of FERTINAL’s plant during a visit to the facility. Workers handed the president documentation containing their complaints. According to Óscar Alzaga, Legal Adviser, SNTMMSRM, company representatives hid information from López Obrador and told him that the plant’s issue merely concerns a contractual review. Alzaga said that to end the strike, he proposed a joint safety commission to check the plant’s conditions and determine what measures must be taken to improve the issue. 

Workers also asked for the elimination of outsourcing. Even though Fertinal is a subsidiary of PEMEX, SNTMMSRM said some workers are hired by Agroindustrias del Balsas. In addition, the company did not comply with fair profit sharing, according to the union. SNTMMSRM said that while state-owned companies do not report their earnings as other companies do, workers exceeded their production goals and asked for compensation. The company said it had offered a payment of US$1,250, but the union said that that amount was already specified in the collective bargaining agreement.

Fertinal is a fertilizer producer focused on phosphate fertilizers. The Lazaro Cardenas plant produces fertilizers that are donated to farmers, as well as phosphoric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and materials for the creation of DAP explosives, the latter commonly sold to mining companies. The company owns two assets: the Industrial Center in Michoacan and its Mining Center in Baja California Sur.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Milenio, FERTINAL, La Jornada
Photo by:   Sharon Loxton
Fernando Mares Fernando Mares Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst