Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Canadian Mining and Labour Struggles in Mexico: The Challenges of Union Organizing and the Weaknesses of Corporate Social Responsibility

Document type Thesis
Author Bocking, Paul G.
Degree M.A., Labour Studies
Publisher McMaster University; Hamilton, Ont.
Date 2012
Pages 78 pages


Focusing on a case study of a union organizing effort at the La Platosa mine in northern Mexico from 2009-2012, this paper studies the challenges facing labour activism at Canadian mining companies in Mexico within the context of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The positions of the Mexican and the Canadian governments in relation to contemporary workers’ struggles in Mexico’s mining sector are considered, particularly the latter’s adoption of a ‘corporate social responsibility’ approach to addressing the activities of Canadian extractive firms abroad. By studying the outcome of the request for mediation filed by La Platosa miners with the Canadian government’s Extractive Sector CSR office in 2011 and evaluating the evolution of this government’s policy approach to extractive companies abroad since 2009, we find that CSR as practiced by the Canadian government has been ineffective at mitigating abusive practices by Canadian mining companies in Mexico and that an alternate outcome is not to be expected under existing policy structures. The relative strengths and weaknesses exhibited during labour organizing at the La Platosa mine are evaluated to find both locally specific and more broadly applicable strategies which could be applied to union renewal, both by workers employed under NAFTA’s transnational sector, and by the general labour movement.