Relations between companies and unions must be aligned with the USMCA: expert

Note published in El Sol de México, Política [Politics] Section by Bertha Becerra.
Read the note in its original source

“Unions in Mexico are not ready to reach consensuses in regard to collective bargaining agreements”, said Héctor de la Cruz, a specialist in Labor Law.

Unions in Mexico are not ready to reach consensuses in regard to collective bargaining agreements and to take their negotiation, which entails salary increases, benefits and the improvement of working conditions, to consultation.

Labor relationships between companies and unions must be modernized, given the new rules established by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will verify that all companies comply with the provisions of national and international labor legislation.

That is, comply with the treaty commitments included in Chapter 23 and Annex 23, so as not to be subject to the penalties provided for in Chapter 31 and its Annexes 31 A and B, which can go as far as the installation of arbitration panels and the imposition of very high tariff penalties for violations in regard to freedom of association, union democracy and collective bargaining, states lawyer Héctor de la Cruz.

The specialist in Labor Law warns that there is where the risks are located, in Chapter 31 and its Annexes 31 A and B, which apply to Mexico exclusively. Attachment A exclusively addresses the relationship with the United States and Attachment B exclusively addresses the relationship with Canada. And both provide quick response mechanisms to possible controversies that may arise in the labor commitments contracted by Mexico.

Among these commitments are freedom of association, collective bargaining, focused mainly on the branches of industry that our commercial partners identified as essential: automotive, auto parts, cement, ceramics, electronics, among others.

After all is said and done, these branches of industry have to take many precautions and measures in regard to collective bargaining, he explained in an interview.

“What we propose, when it comes down to it, is that the negotiation between the company and the union must be necessarily modernized as a result of these new rules”, said the expert in labor Law from the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Firm.

He mentioned that, previously, the relationship between the company and the union was conducted within a very small circle: the company owner or the Chairman of the Board of Directors with the secretary general of the union.

Simply, two or three meetings were held, pre-arranged topics were discussed, the agreement for the new collective bargaining was signed and everyone was happy and the matter was done with.

However, since the Federal Center for Labor Conciliation and Registration started operations in mid-November and in light of these USMCA rules, collective bargaining between the company and the union must necessarily go through a consensus.

Additionally, a consultation of at least 50% plus one of the workers being in agreement with the bargaining, on a salary increase, on a change in benefits, on an improvement in working conditions or the suspension of any employment condition that was previously agreed upon is required, all of the above will no longer depend on two negotiators: the company and the union.

Now a third factor is added to the base, that of the workers. This obviously changes the rules, modifies our way of seeing the world of labor, he explained.

He stated: “Unions are not really prepared to take this kind of situation to consultation, they have never done it and it is hard to believe that they will do it quickly and properly. What can happen is that collective bargaining procedures are bogged down, that they do not move forward. And that would be a serious problem for all sources of work .”

– Is it necessary to be very careful in this transparency?

– Yes, at the end of the day, unions need to approach their members, make themselves known to them and let workers know that they have a union and what the purposes of having a union are. And, on the other hand, companies must carry out new policies for approaching the workers and showing them the benefits of working as a team, what the advantages are, how the company can have a system for handling their complaints and the solution of their problems. It is a joint act.

The company and the union must work hand in hand because it cannot be understood that each of them goes in a different direction.

– Is the new Federal Center for Labor Conciliation and Registration and instrument of the new USMCA rules?

– Yes, of course. In fact, the creation of the Registry is included in the Federal Labor Law (LFT), published on May 1, 2019; this law is fully aligned with the principles of Title 23 of the Free Trade Agreement and of its Article 31. Thus, everything is a part of an integral justice system that has the ultimate objective of having the workers finally be the ones who decide how the negotiations with the company will be conducted in the future, he explained.