Economy#Between the lines | Never more protection contracts and...

#Between the lines | Never more protection contracts and eternal labor lawsuits?

(Expansión) – In the labor world, there is talk of someone who could be the most powerful person in Mexican unionism. The same labor lawyers do not dare to give his name, but those who know him assure that he is a millionaire. Its ‘success’ is not based on an activity that companies and workers fully recognize. But he has taken advantage of the gaps that labor policy has had for years.

He is the “king of protection contracts” and his “trade” has been registered in various sectors, such as energy, but also in airlines, department stores and consumer goods. He is the union leader with the highest number of contracts; more than 100.

His emporium, based on the new labor reform promoted by the self-called fourth transformation, has its days numbered.

On October 3, the third and final stage of the new model of labor justice in Mexico came into force, which aims to end, among other things, the simulation of collective bargaining procedures and endless lawsuits.

In this way, in Chihuahua, CDMX, Coahuila, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Yucatán, the local and federal conciliation centers begin operations, as well as the federal and local labor courts. The rest of the country is already on it.

Without a doubt, we are facing great progress. The forecast is that, by May 1, 2023, we will be able to declare the end of protection contracts, so a scramble for collective bargaining contracts is expected. The big question here is whether by then we will achieve a cultural change in collective terms. At the time

But where skepticism dominates is in labor justice and the conditions that exist to allow it to manifest itself.

Let’s look at the case of CDMX: the ‘old’ labor system still has a brutal lag. In recent years, the CDMX Conciliation and Arbitration Board had more staff and files began to be digitized. However, at the end of 2019 it had 90,000 trials pending and, by September 2022, 145,000. A world of unsolved cases.

What will happen to pending lawsuits? When will they be resolved? It is very possible that it will take many years to conclude with all of them. Thus, labor justice will have to wait.

Now, the bet is on faster trials, avoid complaints in court and end the “lawsuit” in a conciliatory stage.

The process would go something like this:

The dismissal comes, the worker has to exhaust a conciliation process of 45 days to reach an agreement with the company. If this is not reached, the worker has every right to sue in a Labor Court, which -after receiving positions and counter-replies- summons the parties to put the points of controversy on the table and schedules a new hearing to vent the evidence and then pass judgment. According to the law, this process must last six months, maximum.

But, the theory is far from the practice. Lawyers consulted to enrich this story accuse cases that have lasted much longer than agreed. According to files that have already been subjected to the new labor justice system, specifically in the State of Mexico (entity with which the first phase of the labor reform began), there is already a record of complaints still without a sentence.

The reason: lack of budget and experienced staff.

“The number of judges to remove the workload does not give. This is not going to work as long as there is no budget”, says Diego González de la Fuente, managing partner of González de la Fuente Abogados.

The bet then is conciliation. But there are some elements that could prevent you from reaching it. Apart from the long lines to enter the Labor Conciliation Centers (dependent on the Executive Power), the worker cannot enter with his lawyer, when he has the right to be accompanied by someone he trusts.

“It doesn’t look like there are any big wins. There is talk of progress in conciliation, but also of undue pressure from the conciliation centers on workers. This has been done by the Conciliation Boards all their lives, to put pressure on the worker and tell him that he can lose his case. That doesn’t seem right to me”, accuses Carlos de Buen Unna, general director of Bufete de Buen.

In addition, the experience of the conciliators is questioned. There was a dismantling of the experience accumulated over the years and now they are betting on new talent. With this, the benefits that experience brings, in a point as delicate as the social justice of a worker, run the risk of not being manifested.

“Officials lack experience, they are new people who are learning and who will accumulate experience over time,” says Ignacio Márquez, managing partner of Márquez y Beteta Abogados. “Experience is being left aside and commitment is made to young talent.”

In this context, the great labor reform promoted by the so-called fourth transformation remains in the hands of conciliators who may be very good or very bad, in good or bad faith, but it is presumable that their objective is to reconcile everything they can at whatever price. ; It doesn’t matter if the arrangement is fair or unfair, just sign up with a check mark at the end of an agreement. Nothing more.

The object and intention of the reform is very good. For years all labor rights were violated. But good intentions are not enough to presume the end of old and pernicious practices.


The ideal is to reach a healthy settlement. Today, money is scarce and fighting for it can lead to many paths. Each case has its own story, but there are some general recommendations to try to get the best out of these lawsuits.

The workers, first, have to go to the conciliation center that corresponds to them. The help of a lawyer is not necessary at this time, but legal advice can allow them to be well equipped towards a better negotiation. There are many factors that can influence the decision-making (the vulnerable economic situation of the worker), but a settlement that includes between 70-80% of what corresponds to him can be a very good offer.

In the case of companies, the suggestion is to have the entire history of the worker in the company documented (date of entry, salary, position, hours, the reason for termination of the contract), to have a good HR area, but always try to reconcile.

Editor’s note: Jonathán Torres is managing partner of BeGood, Atelier de Reputación and Storydoing; business journalist, media consultant, former editorial director of Forbes Media Latam. Follow him on and on Twitter as . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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