Mexico: Women and labor reform

Mexico, September 24, 2012 (SEMlac). – President Felipe Calderón’s initiative to amend the Federal labor Law has sparked social controversy.

The idea is to change over 1,000 provisions in the next few days. If finally passed by Congress, they will negatively affect working women’s social rights and household responsibilities.

Women currently account for 42 percent of the country’s workforce and for 11 percent of those involved in the informal sector.

”Women are merely seen as breeding stock,” said a participant in a meeting at the House of Representatives last September 17.

“The reform has nothing to do with the gender approach, as the President has suggested,” stressed Teresa Inchaústegui, a political scientist and former member of the House.

Inés González, representative of the Network of Labor Union Women, urged to discuss the bill as widely as possible before it is passed.

Former House member Rosario Ortiz is seeking to amend the legislation in force because it is not in line with labor market developments, including the massive incorporation of women and the need to establish independent unions.

“Meeting participants decided to set up a National Coordinating Authority,” legislator Malú Micher announced.

Carlos Reynoso, representative of the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants, said that maternity leaves will be left to the discretion of employers under the new bill.

Inchaústegui emphasized that it will also demand the presentation of certificates to practice any trade. “We should not forget that most women have no access to formal education,” she added.

“It will also establish probationary periods for up to six months before a worker is finally given a job,” she noted. “And around 25 percent of working women are poorly trained,” she recalled.

“The new initiative will legalize third-party contracts, thereby giving employers the opportunity to save money on wages, promotions and the like,” she remarked.

It will further empower union leaders hoping that they will continue supporting “the establishment.”



Labor relations have not been conducted under the Federal Law since the 1980s. The so-called tolling operations have prevailed along the northern border ever since, resulting in extremely low wages and no health rights.

Collective agreements have also been changed, and organized workers have lost their bargaining power.

Around 18 million working women are being poorly paid and are not entitled to social security benefits.

Over seven million women and young people are currently unemployed, according to a report of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

“Official” trade unions, however, are allowed to regulate the workforce at companies and conglomerates.

Leaders of central organizations, federations and confederations are represented in Congress and local/state governments, and sign special agreements with public and private corporations.

Employers and government officials have for 30 years sought to change the legislation in force. There are today 164 bills sitting in Congress.

“The so-called industrial tribunals (made up of government, employer and worker representatives) should be eliminated,” said Arturo Alcalde, a member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers.

“Any labor disputes should be submitted to ordinary courts rather than to these tribunals because they are subordinated to employers and official union leaders,” he added.

“The new bill seeks to transfer State responsibilities to the private sector,” Inchaústegui indicated.

Thomas Wissing, representative of the International Labor Organization to Mexico and Cuba , told SEMlac that the bill would legalize poor working conditions and inflict a severe blow to union organizations.

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