FLIGHT ATTENDANTS APPLAUD GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE TAESA’S MISTREATMENT OF WORKERS. $50 MILLION FINE POSSIBLE FOR MEXICAN GOVERNMENT AND ECONOMIC SANCTIONS FOR MEXICO’S THIRD LARGEST AIRLINE
January 10, 2000, The Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, applauded a decision by the National Administrative Office (NAO) to review charges that Mexican airliner, TAESA, committed numerous violations of workers’ rights and that the Mexican government, in turning a blind eye to TAESA’s actions, failed to uphold its obligations under NAFTA’s labor side agreement.
"We’re glad the NAO is going to shine a light on TAESA’s misdeeds. I hope other companies get the message: You can’t fire workers for standing up for their rights," said Patricia Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
TAESA, dubbed "the ValuJet of Mexico," fired nearly 100 flight attendants following their vote to join ASSA, Mexico’s largest flight attendant union. The flight attendants were forced to vote openly, orally, and one-by-one in front of government agents, company managers, and officials of an incumbent union. The incumbent union was selected by the company with government approval and no vote by workers when it began operations in 1988.
TAESA also violated workers’ rights by forcing them to fly beyond the maximum hours allowed by law and by refusing to compensate flight attendants for working overtime. TAESA has failed to keep current its payroll tax obligations covering workers’ pensions, health insurance and other social benefits required under Mexican labor law. TAESA flight attendants have also reported that the airline flew planes with an overwhelming number of safety problems. Flight attendants at TAESA documented numerous safety violations aboard TAESA jets including the one that crashed in November of 1999 in Urupan killing 13 passengers and five crew members. Following the Urupan crash, the Mexican government grounded the carrier.
The NAO has 120 days to review the charges and issue a public report. AFA is urging the NAO to hold a public hearing on TAESA’s treatment of flight attendants and the Mexican government’s hands-off approach to the airline’s abuses. At the end of the process, Mexico could be subject to fines of up to $50 million and TAESA could face economic sanctions. As a signer of the NAFTA labor side agreement, Mexico must enforce its own labor laws or be subject to fines or other sanctions. TAESA was founded by Carlos Hank Gonzalez, a Mexican billionaire and crony of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas. ASSA is an independent, democratic union that represents flight attendants at Aeromexico and Mexicana.
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