Don’t Strip Mexican Workers of Their Rights

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Target: President Felipe Calderón

Goal: Overturn the labor reform bill in Mexico that serves corporate interests and strips workers of their rights.

Recently, the Mexican congress passed an overhaul of labor laws. It is wide-reaching and does include some advancements, like equality for women in the workplace, but many other parts of the bill strip workers of their rights. The bill that congress approved is a watered-down version of the original bill. The parts of the original bill that focused on making unions transparent were taken out by congress. Now, the bill is waiting to be signed by outgoing president Felipe Calderón.

Despite the fact that the final bill faced protests, the bill was passed in congress with 99 to 28 votes. Supporters of the bill say that it will help to create jobs. Critics of the bill say it will take away what few benefits workers have. The bill will take away job protections and will hurt young workers trying to get seniority in the workplace. The bill eases companies’ abilities to hire and fire workers and makes contracts more flexible. Under the bill employers would be able to adjust hours regardless of contracts. The bill changes minimum wage from an hourly to a daily rate. It legalizes trial periods that give employers the option to offer more temporary employment with lower wages and fewer benefits. It would also allow employers to pay lower wages to unfairly dismissed employees. Senator Manuel Bartlett said that, “This law is an attack against social justice, and the only ones who will benefit are going to be the business owners.”

The reform will make it harder for union workers to get benefits and undermines their ability to organize. Currently, unions in Mexico are “protection unions” backed by companies, and lack democracy. The original bill had two articles that would allow union members to elect union leaders and  require unions to submit proposed contracts to members. There was also an article requiring unions to show members how  member fees are used. The articles would have made Mexican unions more transparent to members, but the articles were taken out in congress. Without those articles, Mexican unions will continue to represent the interests of companies and not workers.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) calls the labor reform “extremely aggressive.” Several other international labor organizations are against the bill. The law reform is even illegal under international labor laws. Mexican political scientist Javier Oliva said it best when he said, “There is a possibility that more people will be hired, but not under the right labor conditions, it should have been stronger. In Mexico we’re prone to making half-hearted decisions.” Sign the petition below and urge President Calderón not to pass the labor reform bill.

PETITION LETTER

Dear President Calderón

I am urging you not to sign the labor reform bill which was just passed in congress. The bill would only undermine the rights of workers in Mexico. The bill would benefit only companies and would strip away the rights of the workers.

It is critical to have transparent unions that workers can rely on and trust. The articles that were part of the bill that would democratize unions were taken out by congress. A bill cannot be passed that is ineffective and does not address the real issues.

I demand that you stop the labor reform bill and work on creating a labor bill which is more comprehensive and protects workers rights instead of stripping them away.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: ismael villafranco via Flickr

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