On April 25, Mexico’s Oil Workers Union (STPRM)’s 36 sections called for a peaceful protest as a response to alleged violations of the Collective Labor Agreement (CCT) by PEMEX leadership.
At every PEMEX work center, workers displayed posters, signs and other materials to express their many complaints to the state-owned company, among which the lack of medical supplies, work clothing, housing support, scholarships for workers’ children, administrative loans and a complete contract for temporary workers.
Víctor Matías Hernández Colunga, General Ministry STPRM, Section 47 in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, added that PEMEX’s leadership was abused its employees by not paying them for overtime, a common issue since personnel does not rotate regularly. “We have agreed upon not working extra time, but only for the time that the CCT establishes. We are maintaining the peaceful protests, in order to make [the authorities] listen to us,” said Hernández.
As workers gathered for a protest, they also instructed others not to pause labor activities in. The Section’s secretaries urged the unionized workforce to attend extraordinary assemblies to inform other workers about these struggles, which they said have been an issue ever since the current administration began its term. “We are tired of being mocked by PEMEX managers, of them trying to trick us. We have tried to keep on working for some time, despite the unsafe conditions that we were in … Nonetheless, the situation has escalated to a point where it is no longer sustainable,” stated Marco Antonio Azuara García, General Ministry STPRM, Section 42 in Ciudad del Carmen.
These protests have been held in the wake of the April 16 fire at the Antonio Dovalí Jaime oil refinery in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. While there were no reported injuries, neighboring citizens had to be evacuated from their homes. Residents have long complained about the high levels of air pollution in the area, which in addition to the hazards that PEMEX employees face on a regular basis has brought the attention of analysts, stakeholders and international organizations.
Workers interviewed by Energía a Debate said that for the time being there would not be a strike deadline nor any other action to pressure PEMEX, since that requires legitimate representation of unionized workers. According to Luis Eduardo Segura Ché, a retired worker from Section 29 in Tabasco, this is something the current union administration is lacking. Segura and others said that they expect President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to personally address and attend to the workers’ demands.
However, Segura, who also serves as a representative of the Union Restoration Movement, argued that contrary to what is stipulated, union leaders have not held regular assemblies for more than 20 years, when ordinary meetings should be called every three months. “Right now [PEMEX union leaders] want to show unionized workers that they represent them … Those assemblies are fraudulent, false and illegitimate,” he concluded.
Since April 25, 2022 protester demands have increased, as they are are now asking for the construction of a Children’s Development Center (CENDI), training, on-time salary payments, additional shifts, protection equipment and maintenance, among other requests. Some workers claimed that if safety measures are not improved, they will call for a strike.
On May 1, the deadline for the Union of Electrical Workers of the Mexican Republic (SUTERM) and CFE to sign the CCT will pass too, which will determine the working conditions for 70.000 unionized CFE workers.
In the past, PEMEX’s directors and STPRM workers have been able to compromise. For example, on Sept. 2021, negotiations were held to modify the CCT (2021-2022) and as a result, oil workers saw a salary increase of 3.4 percent and an improvement in fiscal benefits of 1.76 percent.