Mexico is going against the clock to fulfill several of the new responsibilities acquired as a signatory country of the T-MEC. One of them is to conclude the processes of legitimation of the Collective Bargaining Agreements before May 1, 2023. Nine months before the end of the term, only 5,402 contracts, out of an estimated universe of 50,000, have concluded the process, according to with figures from the Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration.
The slow progress has already set off the alerts of the Ministry of Labor, which in May asked unions and companies to “accelerate the process”.
The agency explained in a statement that the deadline can only be postponed with a legislative amendment, since the deadline is stipulated in the 2019 labor reform, as well as in Section A of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. And “the possibility of modifying the date is not seen at the door.”
Luisa Alcalde, Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), warned that the contract that is not legitimized before this date will no longer be considered valid and the door will be opened for another union to claim ownership of it and the representation of the workers. .
Union alternation, a collateral effect
For Pablo Franco, president and secretary of labor and international affairs of the Union of Jurists of Mexico, this process is opening the door to independent unions , which have historically been more willing to negotiate better working conditions than large unions such as the CTM. .
For example, workers at the Nissan plants in Cuernavaca, and at the Volkswagen and Audi plants in Puebla, affiliated to independent unions, receive salary ranges that go from 275 to 800 pesos per day. In contrast, in other assembly plants affiliated with the CTM, the salary range goes from 184 to 679 pesos, according to data from the 2021 collective contracts.
The new process of legitimizing collective contracts is favoring trade union rotation in new plants in the automotive sector. After a vote that was in the sights of Mexico, Canada and the United States for four months, the workers of the Silao plant of General Motors ended their relationship with the CTM and decided to join a new independent union, which in April achieved a salary increase of 8.5%.
A similar situation occurred at the Reynosa plant of Panasonic Automotive Systems, whose workers voted this year to elect an independent union, which in June negotiated a 9.5% salary increase, among other benefits.
The union alternation is shaking the automotive industry established in Mexico, which in the last five years has been in the sights of the unions and authorities of the United States and Canada, who on more than one occasion have accused Mexico of carrying out labor dumping to attract investment.
Héctor de la Cueva, from CILAS, explains that this has happened because the CTM unions, which he also qualifies as “employer protection unions”, in many cases negotiate working conditions that are close to the minimum of the law. “Normally they negotiate more based on the interests of the company than of the workers,” he says.
“The multinational automotive companies, taking advantage of the facilities that our labor model gave them, located themselves in our country looking for favorable working conditions for them and contrary ones for the workers. It is natural that this response is being given by the workers”, says Franco.
Today, 87% of the unions of the assemblers are within the CTM, says Willebaldo Gómez, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Barely 10% of the plants in the sector are in the hands of independent unions, grouped in the FESIAAAAN, and the rest corresponds to company or white unions.
In Mexico there are around 2,500 economic units dedicated to the production of auto parts vehicles, but so far only 583 have completed the process of legitimizing their collective bargaining agreement.
With information from Ivet Rodríguez