One worker has been taken into custody and another eight threatened with detention as an industrial dispute with footwear company Bata in Mexico escalates, according to the IndustriAll global union.

IndustriAll said the action was taken against workers in the latest step in a two-and-a-half-year dispute over plans for Bata to outsource production to home workers.

Members of the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de Calzado Sandak, a union representing workers at a Bata subsidiary in Tlaxcala, have been blockading the Calzado Sandak plant since August 2012.

They are aiming to prevent the company from removing machinery and shifting production from the unionised plant to unregulated home-based workshops, IndustriAll claims. “This latest move sends a chilling message to workers: ‘If you occupy your factory, albeit legally, we will have you arrested’,” it said.

The union has pledged its ongoing support for the workers and criticised the use of “protection contracts” in Mexico – registered trade union agreements between employers and employer-dominated “company unions” which, it says, block the democratic representation of workers and collective bargaining.

More than 90% of registered trade union agreements in Mexico are “protection contracts”, IndustriAll says.