In an exclusive preview of 2018’s edition, Mexico Mining Review asked the Secretary General of the National Miners Union, Carlos Pavón, about the story behind the Union’s creation and its work in improving miners’ working conditions.
A: We began operations in 2009 with the goal of creating a trustworthy, respected union for miners throughout Mexico. There were three main objectives, which remain the same today. First is security. As miners, we understand that security is not only the responsibility of the corporations but also of the union, the authorities and the workers themselves because they are the ones who know the conditions better than anyone. Second, we represent miners’ rights and we work to ensure that we receive what we deserve. Finally, we want to ensure that the mining sector continues to create jobs for people throughout the country. Mexico needs as many sources of work as possible because the sad truth is that many people in this country simply do not have any opportunities to work. As a union, our goal is to preserve these sources of employment and create new ones.
Q: How does the union work alongside mining companies?
A: The relationship between the union and the mining companies is extremely close, and that is essential. We work not only with the workers, providing them support on a daily basis, but also with executives to bring about change in the long-term. The path to change is far more straightforward when there is a strong relationship between both parties and we recognize the need to be flexible during our discussions with a company’s decision-makers. It is exceptionally rare for us to call a strike because we prefer to hold discussions and sign agreements. Nobody wins when a mine shuts down.
Q: What does SNMM think about salary levels for miners in Mexico and how important an issue is this for the union?
A: We still believe that wages for miners in Mexico are too low and we are working to improve them but there are certain things one must take into account. Firstly, wages do not include bonuses, which are a big part of the take-home pay for miners. The bonuses are dependent on productivity and production levels and can increase the daily wage for workers by up to 150 percent. Secondly, if metal prices are strong and the mine is profitable during the year, 10 percent of profit is shared among the workers as an extra bonus. During the boom years, around 2010-2011, the bonus that the workers received at the end of the year was far greater than their annual wages, so our fingers are crossed that the recovery of the metal prices will continue in 2017. Thirdly, Mexican miners benefit from the fact that the companies pay 100 percent of their social security. This is not the case in other mining countries around the world.
This is an exclusive preview of the 2018 edition of Mexico Mining Review. If you want to get all the information, plus other relevant insights regarding this industry, pre-order your copy Mexico Mining Review.
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