Protests, support growing for fired Lexmark workers in Juarez, Mexico

Hundreds of workers at the Lexmark plant in Juarez, Mexico, have been fired after they walked off the job last week, asking for raises, the right to unionize abd other demands, according to a story in the El Paso Herald-Post.

According to the Spanish-language website Sinembargo, the labor dispute started in early November, after workers asked for a raise of six pesos, or roughly 35 cents a day.

Lexmark, an international company producing printer cartridges, now pays workers a maximum of 70.10 pesos a day, or $4.03.

Workers were looking for an increase of 114 to 120 pesos (almost $7 a day) as is the norm for employees with five or more years with the company. When the increase was denied, workers decided to file for formation of a union, a move employees say triggered the firings.

In response, some 700 workers held a work stoppage Dec. 8, prompting the wave of firings. Now those fired workers have camped out in front of the plant until their demands are met. In addition to the firings, the workers say their annual bonus — one mandated by the Mexican government — is being withheld.

In a news release, Lexmark said it takes “very seriously the values ​​of mutual respect and employee satisfaction.” The release — credited to Leea Haarz, general manager of Lexmark’s Juarez plant — went on to say, “We embrace individual differences and listen to all voices. We are committed to engage in open and honest conversations with our employees to ensure Lexmark remains a rewarding place to work.”

Support for the group has spread around Mexico and in the United States. Groups on Facebook such as Obrer@Power seek to not only bring light to the situation but help the fired employees get through the holiday season.

One of the main supporters of the group, Susana Prieto Terrazas, is using social media to organize efforts to help the employees and their families. Prieto-Terrazas is asking for financial help to make up for the worker’s withheld bonuses.

A recent food drive provided enough food for 120 fired workers.