TORONTO - Just like poor landowners and miners in Mexico, Canadian shareholders deserve much better from mining company Excellon Resources, the United Steelworkers (USW) union says.
"Company efforts to identify the United Steelworkers as the driving force behind the conflict is an attempt to divert shareholder attention from what we believe are serious management issues at Excellon," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.
"We are communicating directly with Excellon shareholders to document a litany of management problems that have led to festering conflicts in Mexico and a depressed share price for shareholders," said Neumann, who has sent a letter to Excellon's major shareholders.
The USW cites Excellon's breaking of agreements with the Los Mineros miners' union and communal landowners, related to the company's La Platosa silver mine in Mexico. The USW is a strong supporter of the miners' union and landowners and their goal of lifting Mexican communities out of poverty, although the USW has no legal association to either.
"The United Steelworkers is dedicated to defending workers and communities against unsavoury practices by Canadian mining companies," Neumann said.
The USW letter to Excellon shareholders cites numerous troubling developments, including:
- In the last three months, the company's CEO and CFO both departed suddenly, while the share price has dropped to a three-year low.
- Company management reneged on an agreement to recognize and negotiate with the Los Mineros union.
- The company refused to participate in efforts at real dialogue with workers and landowners despite efforts by Canada's Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor and by Mexican state and federal mediators.
- A blockade of the mine by landowners after Excellon management refused to seek a negotiated solution or to comply with its contractual obligations.
- Legal action by landowners to rescind their lease of the land on which the mine operates. This may force Excellon to close the mine or seek shareholder approval for a takeover.
- Allegations of numerous violations of Mexican labour law and threatened use of force to prevent a free and democratic union election by workers.
- A complaint filed with the OECD alleging gross violations of the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, to which both Canada and Mexico are signatory.
- A complaint filed with the Ontario Securities Commission over lack of disclosure allegations.
"A return very soon to serious negotiations based on mutual respect with landowners and Los Mineros is the only way to resolve outstanding issues," the USW letter states.
"Short of this, shareholders may conclude that changes are necessary to the present management and Board of Directors."
The complete version of the USW letter to Excellon shareholders can be viewed at www.usw.ca.
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Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-544-6009, 416-434-7907
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, email@example.com, 416,544-5966, 416-434-2221