Workers Strike At Mexican Border Factory

By Mónica Ortiz Uribe
December 11, 2015
Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Several dozen workers have set up a protest camp outside the Lexmark factory in Ciudad Juárez. They are demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

At least 100 workers at a Mexican border factory in Ciudad Juárez are on strike protesting low wages and a hostile workplace. The factory packages printer ink for the American company Lexmark.

The highest paid workers claim they earn 77 cents an hour. Several dozen workers who said they were fired this week after demanding a pay raise have set up a protest camp outside the factory.

Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Susana Prieto Barraza (right) is a labor attorney who is helping factory workers organize outside the Lexmark plant in Ciudad Juárez.

Meanwhile workers still inside are sending cell phone videos of the strike using a mobile messaging app. On Thursday, video showed local police attempting to remove an employee who had recently been fired.

The workers' grievances include sexual harassment, mistreatment of workers injured on the job and inadequate safety gear. Foreign-owned factories employ upwards of 200,000 people in Juárez. Workers help assemble consumer goods like appliances, cell phones and laptops. Most earn a few dollars above Mexico's minimum wage which, under the current exchange rate, is about $4 dollars a day.

Mexico's factory workers are key to the country's trade relationship with the United States which is currently worth half a trillion dollars.

Mónica Ortiz Uribe
Gabriela Garcia Jarmenos lights a fire in a makeshift stove to keep protesters warm outside the Lexmark factory in Ciudad Juárez.