The Arthur Svensson Prize awarded to Napoleón Gómez

06.05.2014 12:09:00

The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Union Rights for 2014 is awarded to the Mexican trade union leader Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.

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The Arthur Svensson Prize was established by Industri Energi in 2010. The intention of the Prize is to strengthen trade union work and promote trade union rights internationally. The Price of NOK 500,000 is awarded in Oslo on Wednesday 11 June.

This year's laureate, Napoleon Gómez Urrutia is the General Secretary of The National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic, Los Mineros.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros play an important role in the struggle to be able to engage in free and democratic trade union work in Mexico, and for decent wages and safe working conditions. The fight has demanded high sacrifices. Gómez Urrutia has been the victim of huge and brutal anti-union campaigns from both the authorities and the mining companies.

One important reason for this, is the strong condemnation Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros expressed in the aftermath of a mining tragedy in 2006 in which 65 workers lost their lives.

Los Mineros and Gómez Urrutia were horrified when they arrived at the scene of the tragedy: the company Grupo Mexico and the labour department inspectors had ignored the hazardous working conditions at the mine, and failed fatally in the rescue operation.

It was Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros' clear opinion that Grupo Mexico was more concerned with saving its own reputation, than workers' lives. Gómez Urrutia also publicly accused the government of "industrial homicide".

Consequently four trade unionists were murdered, and after he himself had been exposed to death threats and extensive repression, Gomez Urrutia left the Mexico in 2006. He now lives in exile in Canada, but still leads the Los Mineros.

The Government Pension Fund of Norway has investments of over one billion NOKs in Grupo Mexico. As the Mexican company is deeply involved in the campaign against Los Mineros and Gómes Urrutia, the Norwegian and international labour movement joined in 2010 and demanded that the Norwegian Fund withdraws their investments.

The Arthur Svensson Prize has its own website. Here you can read more about the Prize and previous winners.