The 2014 Arthur Svensson Prize is awarded to Napoléon Gómez Urrutia, General Secretary of Los Mineros, the National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union of Mexico (SNTMMSRM).
Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros play an important role in the struggle to be able to engage in free and democratic trade union work in Mexico, and for decent wages and safe working conditions. The fight has demanded high sacrifices. Gómez Urrutia has been the victim of huge and brutal anti-union campaigns from both the authorities and the mining companies.
One important reason for this, is the strong condemnation Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros expressed in the aftermath of a mining tragedy in 2006 in which 65 workers lost their lives.
Los Mineros and Gómez Urrutia were horrified when they arrived at the scene of the tragedy: the company Grupo Mexico and the labour department inspectors had ignored the hazardous working conditions at the mine, and failed fatally in the rescue operation.
It was Gómez Urrutia and Los Mineros' clear opinion that Grupo Mexico was more concerned with saving its own reputation, than workers' lives. Gómez Urrutia also publicly accused Grupo Mexico and the government of "industrial homicide".
Consequently four trade unionists were murdered, and after he himself had been exposed to death threats and extensive repression, Gomez Urrutia left the Mexico in 2006. He now lives in exile in Canada, but still leads the Los Mineros.
The Government Pension Fund of Norway has investments of over one billion NOKs in Grupo Mexico. As the Mexican company is deeply involved in the campaign against Los Mineros and Gómes Urrutia, the Norwegian and international labour movement joined in 2010 and demanded that the Norwegian Fund withdraws their investments.
Napoleón Gómez Urrutia has also written the book Collapse of Dignity, about the mining tragedy and the fight against greed and corruption in Mexico. Collapse of Dignity was published in 2013 and reached number four on The New York Times Monthly Business Bestseller List.