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Lights are on, nobody home

11 October 2009


At approximately 10:30 pm Saturday evening more then 1000 federal police took over diferent installations of the Compañia de Luz y Fuerza del Centro which provided electricity for the central region of Mexico. At midnight the government issued a presidential decree announcing the disspearance of this company and its functions will be taken over by the CFE, the Federal Electric Company

(via Ana María Salazar, posted at 2:11 Mexico City time this morning)

There has been a barrage of news items over the last few weeks, suggesting the union representing Luz y Fuerza workers was hopelessly corrupt.  Less reported in the national press has been that union’s continued intransigence toward what they still regard as a “de facto” presidency (as opposed to the “legitimate presidency” of AMLO), and their opposition to Administration noises about deregulating and/or denationalizing the electric companies. As of Friday, there were still discussions about recognizing the union elections.

Cronica de Hoy says this was a cost-savings move. LyFC has been losing money, and one major overhead has been retiree pensions.  Paying employee liquidations (a cash payment based on salary and years of service to which Mexican employees are entitled) might also mean canceling future retiree benefits:  presently pensions run the company pays about twice its yearly payroll .

Jornada’s first posts note that there was no immediate violence during the “requisa”, but Milenio, which had fuller coverage, indicates that violence is expected, and notes that the Union has scheduled an emergency meeting for today.

El Universal’s 0307 AM posting quotes Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas official Martín Esparza as calling the action an “offense against all Mexican workers” and also reports that an informational strike will begin at 9 AM tomorrow.  U.S. and Canadian electrical workers’ unions have expressed solidarity, but it remains to be seen what happens next.

Stay tuned… assuming I have electricity (my electric company here always was  CFE (also state owned), but there’s no guarantee their workers won’t walk off the job.

Notimex photo

Notimex photo

The timing (late on Saturday night, after beating El Salvador in the World Cup hexogonal elimination round— putting the whole country into a party mood) with a Monday holiday) was obviously planned to minimize media attention and mute reaction by the union (and anti-administration sympathizers).   Ironically, I only caught the story because I had gone clubbing, and — unrelated I think — the power went out!

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