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Mexican parliament debates today on dangerous labour law reform

27 September, 2012Mexican workers are picketing the Mexican parliament today; unions are mobilizing throughout the capital and elsewhere, as politicians debate the extremely anti-worker legislation submitted by outgoing president Felipe Calderón.

The ITUC, AFL-CIO, CLC and trade unions from 20 countries have written to the Mexican parliamentary coordinators to express their severe concern over the proposed reforms to the labour law that stands to curtail all core labour and trade union rights of Mexico’s workers. As is widely known and reported, workers in Mexico already face considerable obstacles to organizing and operating independent trade unions, as anti-union employers exploit a system of protection contracts with impunity from complicit authorities. A group of US members of Congress have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton registering their concern.

Ally of the corporations, outgoing president Calderón has the support of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto who takes office on 1 December. Peña Nieto’s PRI party has historic links to the institutionalized corporatist trade unions in Mexico, and strongly supports increasing flexibility of the labour market at workers’ expense.

Democratic trade unions in Mexico have been in the street this week in staunch opposition to the proposed legislation that threatens their last remaining rights. The independent trade union of Nissan workers blocked the main “Sol” highway between Mexico City and Cuernavaca for three hours on 22 September. The 4,000 trade unionists caused enormous traffic queues in both directions in their protest rejecting the labour law, especially its attack on job security and today massive marches are planned throughout the country.

The proposals won the endorsement of the parliament’s Labour Committee yesterday by 21 votes to 8, with no alternative proposals passed to parliament.

The proposed changes would legalize subcontracting without creating a regulatory mechanism to ensure accountability of companies for the respect of labour rights through their production chains. Under the new law workers could be hired without job security on six-month probation contracts or even hired by the hour. The proposed legislation would also weaken the right to strike, widen the abuse of protection contracts used by employers to bypass the legitimate trade unions representing its employees, and interfere with union autonomy.

Even the legality of the legislative process itself is highly dubious in this case. The preferential fast-track process is new in Mexico and would bypass the democratic process. As IndustriALL General Secretary Raina wrote to parliamentary coordinators of the Mexican Congress, the process shows:

… utter contempt for the views of legislators, workers and citizens and is in clear violation of international labour and human rights standards, including ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and other international law.

See the previous IndustriALL report, and copies of the letters sent here. (http://www.industriall-union.org/join-the-resistance-against-proposed-regressive-labour-law-reforms-in-mexico)