Letter to Mexican President

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President Enrique Peña Nieto
Republic of Mexico

By email

Dear President Peña Nieto

Global Unions solidarity with Mexican workers

On behalf of the British Trades Unions Congress, the six million members of our affiliated unions and British Workers, I am writing to express our grave concern at the serious violations of fundamental labour rights that are occurring systematically in Mexico. We do this as part of the global campaign organised by the International Trade Union Confederation and Global Union Federations.

Weunderstand that you have inherited from the past administration serious labour conflicts that are still unresolved. The most recent is the decision of the Supreme Court to endorse unlawful dismissals of 16,599 workers from the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME). Notwithstanding the Court's decision, we call upon your administration to rectify this injustice reinstating the workers.

We also draw your attention to other similar cases of clear persecution against trade unions that must be brought to an end, particularly in the cases of the Mine and metal Workers' Union (SNTMMSRM) and the Mexican Airlines Union.

We note the continuing endemic problem of protection contracts negotiated between undemocratic and non-representative unions and employers to drive down wages and prevent independent union representation. Most protection contracts give employers broad discretion to fix wages, working hours and conditions of work.

As you are aware once the protection contract is registered, it is extremely difficult to form an independent union and to sign a legitimate collective agreement. This system encourages corruption and only works because, at the national level, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (STPS) allows it to happen.

At the local level, protection contracts are registered with Local Conciliation and Arbitration Boards (CAB), on which the unions holding protection contracts are represented. These STPS and the CABs knowingly register these contracts - some of which are held by known criminals. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has called on the government to enter into a dialogue with national and international trade unions to put an end to this practice.

We are also deeply troubled by the recent amendments to the National Labour Law. Not only did the amendments fail to address long-standing concerns expressed by the trade union movement and the ILO, but they introduced several harmful provisions, such as allowing employers to set salaries without union consultation and even facilitating the creation of protection contract unions.

We realize that these are issues which origin long predates your election, but stress that they can only be overcome however through a new commitment to dialogue. Thus, we respectfully request that consultations with the trade unions are initiated in order to develop concrete steps towards a new labour code which is complaint with international standards, and which renders illegal the negotiation of protection contracts

Yours sincerely

Frances O'Grady

General Secretary

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