16 May, 2019"Nothing will prevent us from organizing and mobilizing workers." This was the conclusion made by Mexico's independent unions after the new labour reform was published on 1 May, International Workers' Day.
The reform was the subject of much debate during a series of coordination meetings held in early May as part of IndustriALL Global Union's work with independent unions, a project supported by Canadian affiliate Unifor.
The new law will make it possible to get rid of employer protection contracts. More specifically, workers have been given the right to elect their union leaders through a free and secret ballot; they must now approve collective agreements; and labour justice will be served through employment tribunals.
In meetings with IndustriALL and Unifor, the independent unions said that although the reform represents major progress, it contains certain contradictions and major challenges still remain. Certain key issues, such as outsourcing, are not covered, which means that further reforms will be needed. Much will depend on how the new law is implemented, and this will require huge resources.
"There's no doubt that there will be a major overhaul of unions. As independent unions, we now have to reconsider our situation and organize ourselves in such a way as to prevent fragmentation and strengthen our position. We can't simply wait for everything to be resolved through government intervention. It is up to the unions to take steps to protect workers and make the reform a reality," they concluded.
They also highlighted the role played by independent unions, social activists and IndustriALL in working together to raise awareness and take united action for all workers.
The newly created federation of independent unions in the automobile, automotive parts, aerospace and tyre industries (FESIIAAAN) also held a meeting with representatives from IG Metall, Unifor, the national confederation of metal workers (CNM-CUT), the Solidarity Centre and IndustriALL. At this meeting, the unions reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening this new federation:
"Out of the 27 car plants in Mexico, only three have an independent union. For years, the independent unions have been left isolated, like black sheep. But through FESIIAAAN, we can now safely say that we have found our flock (...) and we will fight to ensure that many more workers can enjoy better living and working conditions with us," they said.
The delegation and its affiliates took part in the 1 May march, and for the first time independent and other democratic unions (UNT-NCT and CIT) marched side by side to the Zócalo main square. And for the first time, independent unions took part in the meeting with President López Obrador in the National Palace.
Speaking to the 100,000 demonstrators gathered in the square to celebrate 1 May, the international director of Unifor, Mohamad Alsadi, said:
"I'm very happy that Mexico has adopted new legislation, and I hope that the government will work with independent and democratic unions to implement the reforms."