The parliamentary members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) presented a labour reform bill on March 10, which has gained full support of the ruling National Action Party (Partido de Accion Nacional, PAN) and, if introduced, will substantially erode workers’ rights in Mexico. The proposed bill, which has the open support of leading industrialists, is set to be fast-tracked in the Mexican parliament for adoption possibly as early as this week.
If introduced, the fundamental affects of the proposed changes to Mexico’s labour laws will be to lower the cost of labour, maintain widespread corporate control of labour relations, destroy job security and increase poverty and violate worker and human rights in Mexico.
Some of the features of the changes include:
- Giving preference in law to an employers’ right to enter into individual contracts with workers over collective or union contracts,
- Reducing the burden and costs on the employer in the case of unfair dismissals for instance by limiting the payment of loss of wages to no more than 12 months, when currently the delay of Labour Boards hearing cases is frequently up to four or five years,
- Giving extensive and unilateral rights for the outsourcing and subcontracting of work with no protection for workers. The proposals on subcontracting will enable employers to hide and evade their responsibilities, preventing workers from employment security, the right to join a union, the possibility to negotiate fair wages and access to social security provisions,
- Maintaining the status of “protection contracts” and enabling further fragmentation of workers through the use of outsourcing, subcontracting, temporary and conditional contracts for young workers,
- Directly violating the right to freedom of association by establishing in law the principle of enterprise-only based unions by cancelling the legal existence of cross-sectoral affiliations to national union structures, which contravenes international labour rights conventions and the Mexican constitution,
- Allowing for unilateral setting of wages to the detriment of workers, including effectively abolishing the concept of a minimum wage and allowing for the employer to impose work conditions with no possibility for review,
- Freedom to adjust working hours, regardless of whether stipulated in a contract, enabling employers to make changes daily based on the needs of production, and
- Removing from the labour code to a purely administrative classification the right to access social security on the basis of ill-health or permanent injury at work.
The PRI initiative will severely undermine the establishment of democratic unions and strengthens the corporate control over workers. For example, the additional requirements placed on workers when demanding a collective agreement or when taking strike action will expose them even further to retaliation before their representative legitimacy can be established.
The International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) strongly opposes the proposals put forward by the PRI and is currently consulting with all trade union partners in Mexico and elsewhere on what action to take in opposition to this bill and will soon call for international solidarity support on this basis.
For more information about the situation in Mexico and recent international action in defence of trade union rights in Mexico go to:http://www.imfmetal.org/mexico2011