The progress of the legislation through the Mexican parliament has been closely followed by IndustriALL and its affiliates in Mexico and elsewhere. The changes, approved by 99 votes to 28 in the Senate on Tuesday, make a historic step backwards in the social protection and labour rights of all workers in the country.
The widespread abuse of workers in Mexico is well-known and mobilizes the international labour movement together in annual “Days of Action”. The new changes to the law will legalize much of these violations of internationally recognized core human rights to organize and bargain collectively in an independent trade union.
The changes will lurch the Mexican workforce further into precarious work, as short-term temporary contracts can become the legal norm. Workers can now be employed on an hourly basis, on a trial basis, and on an outsourced triangular basis. See IndustriALL’s recent Triangular Trap publication here. Outsourcing in Mexico was already prevalent before these changes and the political right wrongly argue that greater employer flexibility will create more formal employment with full social security benefits.
Salaries in Mexico are generally very low, and are offset to some degree by social benefits, profit sharing, housing and medical schemes. An increase in contract work will jeopardize social security benefits and deteriorate the lives of workers further.
The labour law reforms did nothing to counter the widespread abuse of employer protection contracts, which allow employers to bypass the industrial relations system and establish workplace labour agreements covering a workforce that is not even aware of the agreement’s existence or contents.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) political party, of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, is closely aligned with Mexico’s corporate yellow unions and for that reason voted down changes for full transparency to the union finances and secret ballot elections for union leaders.
For these reasons the changes have been described as the “worst of both worlds”.
A further serious concern coming from the new legislation is that its passing encourages those pushing the neoliberal agenda to move more measures, such as privatization of public assets, into law through complicity of the two main political parties PRI and PAN.
IndustriALL Global Union, its affiliates and allies, will continue to mobilize worldwide and demand that the new Mexican Government takes seriously the ILO recommendations on case 2694 against Protection Contracts, to dialogue with the International trade union movement, the independent Mexican unions and signatories to the ILO complaint of one of IndustriALL’s predecessor organizations, the IMF.