Labor official: Pro-company unions will melt away in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A federal labour official said Tuesday that a majority of Mexico’s union contracts are probably fake, pro-company deals that provide only minimal wages and benefits.

But the unions behind those contracts are so weak they will probably disappear once the country’s new labour reform goes into effect, Assistant Labor Secretary Alfredo Dominguez said.

“Protection contracts may constitute between 67 and 90 per cent of the union contracts, depending on the region” and other factors, Dominguez said. “You can go to any store or hotel and ask workers, and they’ll tell you they haven’t seen their union contract they don’t know their union bylaws they don’t even know who their union leader is.”

The labour reform approved in April requires secret-ballot votes to elect union leaders and proof of workers’ consent for contracts.

The overhaul was needed to win approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which was negotiated to replace the old NAFTA accord. U.S. and Canadian legislators, angered that Mexico lured auto manufacturing plants with low salaries, have demanded that Mexico change labour laws that encouraged wages as low as $1 or $2 an hour at some plants.

While the rules are an improvement, many critics of the current system worry that old-guard union leaders will try to protect their dominance of the labour movement. Dominguez, however, predicted that many of the leaders will simply disappear.

“Our understanding is that many of the protection contracts don’t even have a real union behind them,” he said. “We think there are (union) representatives who are just the friends or relatives of some lawyer or company owner, and they’re probably going to fall of their own weight, so to speak, because they have no real life as a union.”

The old system, in which union leaders often belonged to the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, was so antiquated and slow that workers’ complaints often took four or five years to be resolved.

“By the time they are resolved, many of the judgments against employers can’t be enforced. … They have taken so long the companies named in the complaints no longer exist,” Dominguez said.

While Dominguez expects wages to rise, he said he doesn’t foresee a new wave of wildcat strikes like the ones that hit about four dozen export plants in the border city of Matamoros in January.

“There may be more strike notifications, but because we have set up clearer, fairer, more flexible rules … we are betting these will be resolved through agreements,” he said.

The Matamoros strike movement has been criticized because outside labour lawyers and activists got involved. Dominguez said labour solidarity and advice from outside union activists would be allowed under the reform, but not direct participation in strikes or negotiations.

At the same time, he said, the government doesn’t favour using police to try to break wildcat strikes, as happened on a couple of occasions in Matamoros.

“We feel that in many cases the use of force, far from helping, is actually counterproductive,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

2 dead, 8 hurt in South Carolina nightclub shooting

Police are searching for two suspects

Ponoka RCMP lay charges following home invasion

33-year-old man who arrived on bicycle is in custody

Piece of Red Deer history up for sale

Willson House was built in 1911 and has been completely restored

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases, including one seniors’ residence employee

CHARLOTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prince Edward Island reported new COVID-19 cases for the… Continue reading

Even pandemic can’t spoil July

July. Finally. It’s seems like the last three weird months have taken… Continue reading

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

NDP MP McPherson says she’s disappointed Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual meetings

Flood warning, mandatory evacuation for people in remote Alberta hamlet

A flood warning has been issued for the rain-swollen Smoky River near the Hamlet of Watino

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

‘We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren’t enforced’

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

At Mount Rushmore, Trump digs deeper into nation’s divisions

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. — At the foot of Mount Rushmore… Continue reading

Most Read