The ITUC affiliates in Mexico are the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM), the Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (CROC), the Consejo Nacional de los Trabajadores (CNT) and the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT).
Freedom of association / Right to organise
Barriers to the establishment of organisations:
- 'Prior authorisation or approval by authorities required for the establishment of a union'
- To obtain legal status unions must be listed in the Register of Associations, an office of the Labour and Social Protection Secretariat. The authorities may decline to "take note" of a request if they consider that the union has breached or does not meet the requirements established in the Federal Labour Law (Ley Federal del Trabajo). That judgement involves an examination of trade union procedures. Although it is possible to appeal against an inspector's report, there is no legal recourse for changing it or requiring that a new inspection be carried out. An unregistered union cannot call a strike or participate in collective agreements and is excluded from all tripartite committees.
Restrictions on workers' right to form and join organisations of their own choosing:
- Single trade union system imposed by law and/or a system banning or limiting organising at a certain level (enterprise, industry and/or sector, regional and/or territorial, national)
- Article 23 of the Regulatory Law of sub-paragraph XIII bis of section B, article 123 of the Constitution, imposes a trade union monopoly on bank workers, who may only belong to the National Federation of Banking Unions.
- Restrictions on workers' right to join the trade union of their choosing imposed by law (i.e. obligation to join a trade union of a certain level e.g. enterprise, industry and/or sector, regional and /or territorial national)
- Under the terms of Article 69 of Federal Law on Workers in the Service of the State, State employees may not leave their union (owing to an exclusion clause whereby they lose their job if they leave the union). Similarly, article 79 of the same law prohibits civil servants’ unions from joining labour unions or rural workers’ organisations.
Restrictions on trade unions' right to organise their administration:
- Restrictions on the right to elect representatives and self-administer in full freedom
- Foreigners may not become members of trade union executive bodies, according to Article 372; sub-section II, of the Federal Labour Law. According to article 75 of the same law, leaders of public sector trade unions cannot stand for re-election.
Right to strike
Barriers to lawful strike actions:
- Obligation to observe an excessive quorum or to obtain an excessive majority in a ballot to call a strike
- In the civil service, the law (sub-section II of article 99 of the Federal Law on Workers in the Service of the Stat) provides that in order to call a strike, two-thirds of the workers in the public body concerned must be in favour.
Undue interference by authorities or employers during the course of a strike:
- Forcible requisitioning of workers strikers (apart from cases in public essential services)
- Various laws on public services – such as the Regulatory Law on the Railways Service, the Law on the National Register of Vehicles, the General Communications Law and the internal regulations of the Communications and Transport Secretariat - make provision for the requisitioning of staff where the national economy could be affected.
Limitations or ban on strikes in certain sectors:
- Undue restrictions for "public servants"
- State employees only have the right to strike in cases where their rights are violated generally and systematically. (Arts. 94, fourth heading of the Federal Law on Workers in the Service of the State, and 5, of the Regulatory Law of sub-paragraph XIII bis, section B, of article 123 of the Constitution).
- Unreasonable or discretionary (i.e. without negotiation with social partners or absence of an independent authority in the event of disagreement) determination of the extent of the "minimum service" to be guaranteed during strikes in public services
- In the banking sector, article 121 of the Credit Institutions Law provides that a National Banking Commission “shall ensure that ... during the strike as many offices as are indispensible shall remain open and as many workers as are strictly necessary to perform the functions shall continue to work'.
CB&I Matamoros carried out mass dismissals in Mexico after 350 workers went on strike on 3 June 2014 for better working conditions. The workers’ main demand is for the company to comply with ILO Convention 87 and respect their decision to join the Mexican Miners’ and Metalworkers’ Union (SNTMMSRM).
Thirty three workers continue to insist on reinstatement to their former jobs and their rights fully restored. These 33 workers who have been fighting for justice since 2008 won reinstatement at Industria Vidriera del Potosí (a subsidiary of Grupo Modelo-AB InBev) as a result of the ruling of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board at the beginning of April 2014.
On 26 January 2008, Vidriera sacked 220 workers including the entire executive committee of the IndustriALL-affiliated glass workers’ union (SUTEIVP). They did so following the negotiated agreement of a 19% wage increase by this independent union.
Workers currently face huge hardship as a result of the company’s actions including “company blacklisting” and complicit local labour authorities making it practically impossible for dismissed workers and their families to find work locally and in other regions of Mexico.
Workers at Teksid Hierro in Monclova, Ciudad Frontera, Coahuila, Mexico, part of the Fiat Chrysler Group, are fighting back against abusive reprisals for organizing. Three workers, Marisol Ruiz Moreno, Orlando Mendoza Guardiola and Oscar Arturo Rodríguez Ponce, were sacked on 18 April and 11 more were savagely and cowardly assaulted by 80-100 hired thugs, while coming out of a meeting with management and labour authorities on 21 April 2014.
Two peasant leaders, Juan Lucena Ríos and José Luis Sotelo Martínez, from the community of Paraíso, a town of 6,000, were assassinated on November 16 in downtown Atoyac de Álvarez in the Costa Grande region of Guerrero as they were leading a protest by coffee workers. This came a day after they had announced that they were creating a community policing organisation in the town.
In November 2013, gasoline attendants at two Mexico City gas stations initiated a strike against the owner, Operadora Gasoil S.A. de C.V. The union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Casas Comerciales, Oficinas y Expendios, Similares y Conexos del Distrito Federal (STRACC), explained that the strike followed the failure to reach an agreement with the company. The company had refused to recognise the union at a gas station, firing seven workers and engaging in a variety of other practices that violate labour rights and freedom of association, according to the union.
An independent investigation of the Finnish auto parts company PKC in Mexico released in June 2013 found that PKC imposed a company union without the knowledge of its workers, harassed and threatened workers who attempted to join the independent Mexican Mine and Metalworkers’ union, manipulated an election to defeat the Mineworkers, and fired independent union supporters.
On 7 May 2013, Honda Mexico breached a workplace agreement and dismissed five workers in a complicit campaign by the company and local protection union, SETEAMI, to intimidate the workforce. All of them were members of the committee that negotiated a settlement after 90 per cent of the workers showed their dissatisfaction with the company’s refusal to share its profits in a work-stoppage on 16-18 April.
The case of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME) workers is still unresolved. In 2009, the Fuerza y Luz company was closed down arbitrarily and without consultation. This is considered as an open attack on one of the most important unions in Mexico. The SME has fought to get those workers reinstated ever since. In January 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no obligation to re-employ the dismissed workers.
90 per cent of collective agreements are signed by protection-contract unions established by employers and corrupt organisations with the aim of preventing bargaining in good faith.
One of the most serious violations occurred with the telecommunications company Atento Servicios concerning a contractual entitlement trial filed by the Sindicato de Telefonistas de la República Mexicana in order to invalidate the protection contracts. The trial was reportedly rigged.
Governmental agencies such as the Federal Electoral Institute and other public bodies systematically refuse to recognise unions.
The labour authorities do not fulfil their obligations in terms of workplace labour inspections. The most vulnerable workers include women and children, many of whom work in the informal economy, with no rights.
According to local conciliation and arbitration boards, the principal complaints against enterprises are about the failure to register workers with the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), excessively long working hours, the non-payment of overtime, transfers to workplaces in remote locations, the docking of wages and no recognition of the right to organise.
Numerous independent trade unions suffered violent attacks, intimidation and the repression of trade union rights during 2010, such as the mine, metal and allied workers’ union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalúrgicos y Similares de la República Méxicana (SNTMMSRM), the electricians’ union Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME), the union representing professional and technical workers at the state oil company PEMEX, the Unión Nacional de Técnicos y Profesionistas Petroleros (UNTyPP), the tire workers’ union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de General Tire de México (SNTGTM), the union representing university staff at the UACM, the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (SUTUACM), the telephone workers’ union Sindicato de Telefonistas de la República Mexicana (STRM), the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT) and as many as 30 other organisations affiliated to the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT).
Employers, backed by the government, relentlessly devise and perfect mechanisms to suppress trade union rights. The aim of these widespread violations is to stop workers from organising and to crush or weaken their unions. The result is the proliferation of “protection contracts”, repression, threats, and the hiring of thugs to attack organised workers.