MEXICO CITY, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Two men shot dead near a gold mine owned by Canada's Torex Gold Resources Inc in Mexico were not its employees or contractors, the company said on Wednesday, after the killings were cited by unions as an example of poor labor conditions.
The shootings occurred on Saturday at a road blockade mounted as part of a stoppage of the mine near the town of Atzcala in violent Guerrero state. The stoppage was called by workers seeking to change their union representation, and Mexico's Miners Union blamed the deaths on a rival group.
Torex said in a statement that neither of the men was employed by the company.
"One of the gentlemen had a local tool/equipment rental business in Atzcala. He was not a contractor working for us," Gabriela Sanchez, vice president for Investor Relations at Torex said in an email.
Labor conditions in Mexico are a key element in talks about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada and the United States argue that weak unions and low wages south of the border tilt the 23-year-old deal in Mexico's favor while leaving workers under-protected. (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel)