UPDATE (FEB. 7th, 2019):
So far, it only spread to other consumer goods retailers and manufacturers within Matamoros and a few other maquiladoras not previously represented by SJIIM-CTM.
RESULTS: 48 Companies on strike where Union has asked for an increase of 20% of wages plus a bonus of 32K mexican pesos per worker to be paid in equal installments (sometimes 2, sometimes 3). 44 of 48 companies have accepted this increase as of February 7, 2019. 1,500 employees have lost their jobs after 4 maquiladoras closed definitely.
CULPRIT: An increase of the statutory minimum wage in the northern border (100% increase last January 1st. 2019). This automatic increase clause in Labor Collective Agreements with SJIIM-CTM Union gave origin to the claim to bring strike procedures against an original number of 45 maquiladoras. SITPMEN Union in Matamoros has also brought collective bargaining action in 16 Matamoros maquiladoras. This activity was prodded apparently by a rogue organizer of the National Mining Union that has been organizing in Matamoros for the last couple of months with the apparent support of the MORENA Mayor of Matamoros.
A succesful resolution can go a long way to ease tensions that can help U.S. Congress to ratify the NAFTA agreement succesor: Trump’s USMCA.
1. Unlike most other, Matamoros has been a traditional union town.
For decades, Union and Employer relationships have been fraught with a degree of distrust unrelated to other border towns in Mexico employing Maquiladora workers. Most larger employers in Matamoros (maquiladoras and non-maquiladoras alike) have been forced in the past to sign collective labor agreements represented by former Oil & Gas Union Bosses, as this region is historically linked to Unions of this industry.
2. Collective legal process is being followed closely by the Federal Minister of Labor & Mexican federal courts.
Given that Mexico is under a new Presidential Administration, the NAFTA-successor international agreement USMCA is awaiting ratification in the three North American Countries (US, Mexico and Canada) such agreement provides specific labor specific mandates in Annex 23 as related to non-interference in Union Governance collective rights adjudication and enforcement, and in general adherence to ILO (international Labor Organization) Standard.
There is heightened interest of all parties concerned to see these conflicts resolved peacefully and lawfully. So far, there has been no violence. Some Matamoros companies have accepted Union-proposed wage increases and one-time bonuses, while others remain on strike under Local Labor Board and Federal Court Supervision. Although there was a general worry that these types of labor movements would spread outside Matamoros, so far the Maquiladora companies in other cities that had to adjust increases in labor wages have done it successfully without the workers feeling the need to ask their Union or bring new Unions to Collective Labor activity.
3. Mexican Federal Congress is discussing bills to amend outsourcing activity, unions and labor justice.
Besides introducing transparency and democracy to Union Governance in Mexico, another controversial topic will be the changes in outsourcing laws to prevent circumvention of employer’s obligations that could affect workers’ rights. This will be the third attempt to re-regulate this matter as some unscrupulous employers have abused their position to evade payroll-linked taxes or statutory benefits.
We will keep you posted in all these very important legal matters affecting your company, if you need legal advice regarding this topic please feel free to contact our Labor Law experts here.
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