The Department of labor will adjust rules for the legitimization of collective bargaining agreements

Note published in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] Section by María del Pilar Martínez.
Read the note in its original source

Modifications to the Protocol for the Legitimization of Collective Bargaining Agreements will be made, as we have detected that “self-regulation has not been effective”, informed the Department of Labor and Social Welfare

The Department of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) will make some adjustments to the Protocol for the Legitimization of Collective Bargaining Agreements, as it has detected that “self-regulation has not been effective”, which is why, in addition to the new application of the labor reform, it seeks to include a way for workers to file unconformities in regard to the procedures followed by the union to comply with the Law.

According to file 14/0034/081220 published in the Cofemer [National Commission for Regulatory Improvement], the agency explained that “it is necessary to establish a procedure that allows attending workers’ unconformities that are presented as a result of consultation events within collective bargaining agreement legitimization procedures”; given that, in the case of legitimization, it is essential that it be conducted through the free, secret and direct vote of the workers.

We must recall that the labor reform entered into force in May, 2019 and unions have a period of 4 years to legitimize their existing collective bargaining agreement; this also allows the transparency of the democratic processes demanded by the trade agreement with the United States and Canada (USMCA).

The agency stated in the Cofemer that “at this time, unions could modify their| bylaws and self-regulate for the verification of their collective bargaining agreements and establish that they must be legitimized by the majority of their workers in order to be authentic. However, self-regulation has not been effective, as most collective contracts are simulated by employer protection unions.”

The labor authority explained that part of the existing contracts arose under the creation of protection unions that do not represent the majority of workers and their leaderships are the ones who enter into collective bargaining agreements, behind the back of the workers’ base.

“Therefore, it was not possible to force protection unions to consult the workers for entering into or reviewing collective bargaining agreements (…) For this reason, it was decided to establish a mechanism that “cleanses” and provides transparency in regard to agreements entered into during the next 4 years, so only collective bargaining agreements that really represent the workers remain in force.”

Even with the Federal Center for Labor Conciliation and Registration not being 100% in operation, the STPS will be able to determine whether there was lack of compliance or violations in the legitimization of an agreement.

Adjustments and not signals

Mexico has the obligation of making the collective bargaining agreement legitimization processes transparent, hence the need for making adjustments, particularly “because given the international commitments of the USMCA, as well as the monitoring conducted by the United States, which even has a call center for receiving any denunciation in an anonymous manner, it is valid that the Mexican government establishes a mechanism of this nature”, said Óscar de la Vega, partner at the D&M Abogados Firm.

He added that there are still many pending regulations on how to guarantee full freedom of association for the worker, “it is a step in the right direction to give transparency to processes that must be democratic and free from pressure from either unions or companies.”

According to Esteban Martínez Mejía, head of the Liaison unit for the Reform to the Labor Justice System, the federal government is working hard to promote compliance with the labor reform with all sectors, “not just because there are established deadlines, but because non-compliance with the provisions of the Labor Chapter of the USMCA could have repercussions on Mexico’s commercial relations.”

Some data

  • To date, 309 unions have registered in the electronic platform, 132 of these have or have had a minimum of one consultation event.
  • A total of 478 collective bargaining agreements have been registered, 262 of which have been legitimized.
  • From the month of September 2019 to date, 801 consultation events have been held; verification by notary public was requested in 250 of these events and verification by a labor inspector was requested in 551 events.
  • A total of 262 certificates of legitimization have been issued. To date, 149 consultation events have been scheduled and they will be conducted from December 4, 2020 to January 8, 2021.