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Mexico's unions fight to stop anti-worker labor law reform

By Brad Sigal |
September 26, 2012
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On Sept. 1 Mexico’s outgoing President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) proposed a massive reform to Mexico’s federal labor law. The proposal would modify over 100 articles of Mexico’s labor law.

Calderon’s proposal is also supported by president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose election is still being disputed due to widespread allegations of vote-buying and fraud. Both the PAN and the PRI are right-wing parties. Mexico’s labor law has some progressive aspects that were included in the constitution that was written in 1917 in the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. The current right-wing reforms seek to undermine those progressive parts of Mexican labor law.

The proposed reform is being pushed quickly through the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, with a vote in the full chamber slated to happen as early as Sept. 27.

Unions in Mexico are strongly opposed to the anti-union and anti-worker reforms and have been mobilizing massively to stop them.

Among other things, the proposed reforms would legalize subcontracting and temporary contracting of workers to allow companies to avoid paying into social security for their workers; would make it easier for companies to fire workers; and under the guise of the “flexibility of the workday” the minimum wage and the eight-hour workday would essentially be gutted, though these are both supposed to be guaranteed in Article 123 of Mexico’s constitution. The new reforms would make it increasingly difficult for workers to retire with a dignified pension. They would make it harder for workers to take legal action against their employer. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the reforms would restrict collective union contracts, limit the autonomy of unions, and would restrict the right to strike.

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