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Thousands More Walk Out As Maquila Disputes Continue

January 29, 1992

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ Thousands of workers at Mexican border factories known as maquiladoras went on strike Tuesday after negotiators failed to reach an agreement on wage increases.

But while workers from at least four companies were walking off the job, other plants that had been closed down by labor disputes were reopening.

Maquiladoras, or twins plants, are generally subsidiaries of American companies and are used for the assembly or manufacture of products sold in the United States. These plants make everything from electronic components to automobile parts.

Workers from Deltronicos, Grupo Nova, and Trico rallied in front of their work places Tuesday, displaying the red and black strike flag. They promised to continue picketing until an accord was reached.

Deltronicos is the biggest company on strike with approximately 3,500 workers. Trico has some 1,400 employees. Another company involved in the dispute, Neco de Mexico, has about 870 employees. Employment figures were not available for Nova.

Negotiators were meeting again to try to resolve this second round of labor disputes, said Raul Cesar Gonzalez, a state government arbitrator.

The Union of Day Laborers and Industrial Workers, which represents the maquila employees, is seeking around a 30 percent wage increase for workers.

Industry representatives say the demands are too high.

Fred Quintana, a spokesman for the Matamoros Maquiladora Association, said that such wage hikes could be damaging to the industry.

″If these wages continue to spiral like this - they’re already in a dangerous position,″ Quintana said.

He suggested that climbing labor costs in Matamoros could prompt companies to move jobs out of the area or to relocate entirely.

The average worker makes about $9 dollars per day, Quintana said. Workers say they make less than $30 per week, and with that, they’re barely scraping by.

″The things keep getting more expensive, but we’re staying at the bottom,″ said Rosa Guillermina Nieto, who was among the roughly 1,500 workers picketing at the Deltronicos facility.

She said workers would remain outside the building ″until there’s a solution, until they tell us everything’s resolved.″

Nearby, at Grupo Nova, union representative Juana Maria Ramirez said the companies had not been forthcoming with workers.

″They have not permitted us to have any dialogue with them,″ she said.

Industry negotiators, however, have been able to reach agreements with workers at some of the facilities closed by strikes Monday.

Most laborers at Componentes Mecanicos, Rimir and Magnetek - who settled labor disputes late Monday - were back on the job Tuesday. Talks continued Tuesday to get workers at Industrias Gobar back on the job.

The other employees went back to work shortly before midnight, just hours after union officials secured a wage increase of a little more than 20 percent.

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