Ten organizations representing over 25,000 Mexican workers announced on 13 July the imminent creation of a Federation of Democratic and Independent Unions in the automotive sector. Their hope is to participate in shaping labour and industrial policy in the country.
The new federation is composed of ten organizations representing workers in the automotive, auto parts, logistics, rubber and aerospace industries. Their aim is to ensure that workers enjoy the right to freely join a genuine trade union of their choice which can represent them with dignity and defend their rights.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was elected President of Mexico on 1 July, pledged throughout the election campaign that he would respect the autonomy of all trade unions and that his government would work to promote trade union democracy and workers' rights.
This gives the unions hope that the new democratic trade union federation will bring about a genuine social dialogue with the government. IndustriALL's coordinator in Mexico, José Luis Rodríguez Salazar, had this to say:
"Civil society in Mexico has expressed its rejection of the corruption and impunity that exists at all levels of government. With the election of a new government, we have an opportunity to bring about a change in the social, political and economic life of the country. Now it is up to us, the Mexican workers, to come together and support this new project and to transform the world of labour".
Members pledged to work with the newly elected President and the labour authorities for the benefit of the working classes and to fight against harmful practices such as "protection contracts".
"Protection contracts", which are the dominant form of collective bargaining agreement in Mexico, are basically agreements negotiated between corrupt company unions, employers and government authorities. Their purpose is to maintain exploitative working conditions that go against workers' interests.
"If we succeed in taking advantage of the new scenario that has been created at the national level and propose new forms of labour organization that represent the true interests of workers, we will be creating a tool which will put an end to the shameful collective bargaining farce that protects only the interests of employers", added Rodíguez.
A working group has now been set up in the state of Puebla which has been tasked with preparing the legal documents that will allow the new union federation to be registered and become operational. The federation will seek to play a greater role in all decision-making regarding labour and industrial policy in the country. The federation also hopes to be able to play an active role in discussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as it believes that no negotiations regarding the treaty should take place until the newly elected President of Mexico assumes power in December 2018.
Valter Sanches, the general secretary of IndustriALL, made the following remarks:
"We welcome the decision to establish the new Federation of Democratic and Independent Unions of Mexico. IndustriALL Global Union, which has supported this initiative from the very beginning, will continue to provide its full support in the fight against protection contracts and in defence of freedom of association for all workers".