The Mexican Senate has unanimously ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 98, which guarantees the right to organise and collective bargaining, in what has been hailed a “historic moment” for the country’s union movement.
The convention was adopted in Geneva on 1 July 1949, and since 1998 has formed part of the four fundamental employment rights set forth in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Owing to international pressure, particularly from the IndustriAll Global Union, the ratification bill signed by the Federal Government entered the Senate on 1 December 2015.
However, IndustriAll claims the Mexican government dragged its feet for “three long years, bowing to pressure from those who sought to increase the number of employer protection contracts that are signed by companies behind workers’ backs and further exploit the Mexican workforce”.
Over the years, through case no. 2694 filed with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards, IndustriAll has repeated its calls for the Mexico government to ratify the ILO conventions and bring an end to employer protection contracts, which violate freedom of association and the right to genuine collective bargaining.
In his statement to the Senate, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, senator for the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party led by President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said it would now be possible to get rid of the harmful protection contracts, strengthen labour-related dialogue, improve wages, rebuild the national economy and, above all, ensure that workers were treated fairly and with dignity.
“This country has a longstanding social debt towards the working class, but from now on things are going to change,” said Urrutia, who is also president of IndustriAll Global Union’s affiliate Los Mineros and co-regional chair of IndustriAll’s executive committee.
“Now that the Convention has been ratified, workers across Mexico will begin rebuilding labour relations in order to win back the rights of workers, ensure freedom of association and allow workers to set up trade unions and conduct genuine collective bargaining.”
IndustriAll’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, welcomed the ratification.
He added: “This is a new chapter in the history of workers in Mexico. We hope it will bring an end to the employer protection contracts, which prevent workers from freely creating trade unions and mean that wages in Mexico are the lowest in Latin America.”