The Government Pension Fund of Norway must withdraw from Grupo Mexico

13.06.2014 21:06:00

Napoleòn Gòmez Urrutia, General Secretary of the miners’ union Los Mineros in Mexico, was awarded the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade union Rights in Oslo, Norway on 11. June. At the ceremony, Leif Sande, Chairman of The Arthur Svensson-prize committee and General Secretary of Industri Energi demanded withdrawal of the billion NOKs the Government Pension Fund of Norway has invested in Grupo Mexico.

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Bilde mangler
Napoléon receives the prize for his and Los Mineros’ brave and dangerous struggle for union rights, against the mining company Grupo Mexico and the Mexican authorities. Foto: Marius Jøntvedt

This is the fifth time the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights is awarded.

Members of the award committee consist are: former leaders of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Gerd-Liv Valla and Yngve Hågensen, Randi Bjoergen (former chair of the Confederation of Vocational Union - YS), Helga Hjetland (former head of the Union of Education), Finn Erik Thoresen (Chairman of the Norwegian People's Aid) and Liv Torres (Secretary General of the Norwegian People's Aid), and Leif Sande, leader of the Committee (industri Energi).

Fearing for his life
Four members of Los Mineros have been killed, and union leaders are victims of vicious anti-union campaigns. Fearing for his own and his family’s life, Napoléon and his family have been living in exile in Canada for eight years.

Behind the campaign against Napoleon and Los Mineros are the Mexican authorities and Grupo México, the largest mining company in Mexico and the world's third largest producer of copper.

There have been repeated fabricated false accusations and a warrant of arrest issued through Interpol by the Mexican authorities. For that reason, the Prize winner did not risk to come to Norway receive the Prize, but his wife Oralia was there in his place, while Napoléon followed the ceremony via Skype.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia was elected to head the trade union for miners, Los Mineros in 2002, and has been re-elected annually also after going into exile in Canada in 2006.

- Napoleón plays key role in the fight for democratic unions in Mexico, unions that are not controlled by government and employers, Leif Sande said in his speech.

- He fights a resolute and daring struggle against powerful and brutal forces. He has our full support, said Leif Sande to a packed hall at the award ceremony in Folkets Hus in OsloFoto: Arild Theimann.

Dirty business
- At the same time as Grupo Mexico and Mexican authorities are brutally chasing Napoléon and other members of Los Mineros, the Government Pension Fund of Norway are investing one billion NOKs of money belonging to the Norwegian people in the same company, Sande said.

-It is wrong that you and I, in one of the world's richest countries, should be even richer because the CEO Yngve Slyngstad of Norges Bank Investment Management and his traders are investing in a company that gamble with people's lives and important principles of freedom, justice and professional influence that we in Norway takes as an obvious right. It should not be that way.

- It is our obligation as union colleagues - and as fellow human beings - to speak out loud and clear:
- The Government Pension Fund of Norway must get out of Grupo Mexico. We will not be involved in “dirty business”, Sande said.

Moral defeat for Grupo Mexico
Sande received the full support of the prize winner himself, in that the pension fund should withdraw from Grupo Mexico.

- It would be a very important message, and a moral defeat for Grupo Mexico, if the pension fund of Norway pulls out of the company. Regular employees have been killed, injured and persecuted by this company for many years. The company has spent enormous resources in terms of time and money to fight our legitimate right to organize. Therefore, the pension fund should withdraw. And they should do it fast, Napoleón said via Skype.

- It is a great inspiration to receive Arthur Svensson-Prize. Inspiring for our struggle in Mexico, and for unions worldwide, he said.

Proud of him
Napoléons wife, Oralia Casso, who had come to Norway to receive the award on behalf of her husband, expressed great delight and gratitude for the acknowledgment which comes with the Prize.Foto: Arild Theimann

- I am so proud and fond of my husband, she concluded to a standing ovation.