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Striking Mexican Mine Workers Return

Thousands of miners in Mexico have begun returning to work after walking off the job last week to protest working conditions, and in support of their embattled union leader.

On Thursday, a labor reform coalition met in Mexico City to petition the United Nations International Labor Organization to intervene with the Mexican Government in securing better treatment for the country's miners.

Calls for reform in Mexico's mining industry follow an explosion last month that killed 65 workers. Strikers demanding better conditions effectively shut down the country's two largest copper mines and a third facility considered the world's biggest silver producer.

Reform advocates called for improved treatment for mine industry workers at a news conference in Mexico City. Former Congresswoman Rosa Albira Garabito spoke on behalf of the group. "This tragedy in the Pasta de Conchos mine has helped unveil the criminal conditions and the exploitation that these miners are experiencing."

The 250,000-member National Mining and Metal Workers Union is also demanding the government withdraw its recognition of a union official who they say does not represent their interests.

One miner said, "We will not lift this strike until the Labor Secretary and the government take their hands off the miners' union."

The Mexican Labor Ministry had declared the walkout illegal, and threatened that any workers who remained on strike could be fired.

There is an International Labor Organization convention on mine safety that has been ratified by approximately two-dozen countries, including the United States, but not several other major mining countries.