Saturday, September 9, 2017

Maquiladora Solidarity Network publishes must-read briefing paper on labor reforms to Mexico's Consitution

In July 2017, the Maquiladora Solidarity Network published a must-read briefing paper on recent labor reforms to Mexico's Constitution.  Approved by the Mexican Congress in October and November 2016 and by a majority of Mexican state legislatures in January 2017, these reforms resulted from conditionalities imposed on Mexico as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation process and decades of advocacy and pressure by Mexican and international labor and human rights activists.  They went into effect in February 2017.

The purpose of the constitutional labor reforms is to remove legal obstacles to workers' right to organize democratically to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, eliminate the corrupt employer practice of negotiating protection contracts with unrepresentative unions, and to completely revamp Mexico's labor justice system so that it is independent, fair and transparent.

MSN clearly and cogently outlines the new reforms, discusses the 2016 reforms in the context of Mexico's 2012 labor law reform project, and provides an insightful analysis of what comes next in the legislative process and the coming challenges and risks in implementing the reforms.  One major challenge that remains is the dissolution of tri-partite labor and conciliation boards in order to replace them with impartial federal and local labor courts - and what to do with existing labor board functionaries who may either lose their jobs or transfer undesirable institutional cultural practices to the new labor court system.  One key risk is the possibility that labor justice reforms will stall without full implementation in the face of legislative opposition from employer groups and insufficient pressure from the U.S. Trade Representative in the current NAFTA renegotiation process.

MSN recommends that international brands, employers, trade unions, worker support groups, human rights organizations and the international community continue to support Mexico's labor reform process and encourage the Mexican government to approve implementing legislation that is true to the underlying spirit and intent of the Constitutional Reform.  MSN's July 2017 briefing paper provides the perfect foundation for this work.