Note published on July 18 in El Economista, Capital Humano [Human Capital] Section by Gerardo Hernández.
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Collective bargaining agreements that are not legitimized within the term provided by the labor reform will disappear, which would entail new individual employment relationships with benefits above those provided for by law.
The legitimation of collective bargaining agreements (CCTs) is in its final stretch. Unions have until May 1 2023 to conduct this procedure that has the objective of expunging agreements signed behind the workers’ backs.
Specialists in labor matters agree that the process poses various scenarios and challenges for companies. The commitments assumed by Mexico within the framework of the USMCA and the 2019 labor reform opened the door to this procedure that consists of consulting the workers so they can show their support or rejection of the CCT that covers their labor conditions through their personal, free, direct and secret vote.
“The issue of the legitimation of collective bargaining agreements will play out to be a highly important filter for those unions that do not have any justification whatsoever for existing”, underlines Carlos Ferran Martínez Carrillo, directing partner of Ferran Martínez Abogados.
However, the specialist further explains, if an agreement is not legitimized, the benefits established therein are maintained in individual agreements, which opens scenarios such as “not needing a union because it was never actually needed or because people did not know about it, but the fact of not legitimizing it could possibly complicate the improvement of these benefits in the future.”
In the opinion of Óscar de la Vega, partner at D&M Abogados, when a CCT does not have the support of the majority of the workers, it is more likely that there will be a union-free environment. and, although this may seem simple, it could be even more complex for organizations.
“I believe that living in a union-free environment is not cheaper, it has a cost in two senses, the first one is the attention paid to the demands of the workers, the employer has to be very aware of what these requirements are, the role of the Human Resources area changes. In second place, investment in people has to improve or, otherwise, unionization will be more simple”, he points out.
The D&M Abogados Firm estimates that, should the current trend for the legitimation of collective bargaining agreements continue, 80% of all registered agreements will have been declared null and void by next year. To date, only a little over 5,100 CCTs have been legitimated, representing 10% of the registered total, reported the Department of Labor.
Sofía Gómez Bautista, Labor Practice Leader at Creel Abogados, states that even though the rejection of a CCT may represent the end of the union activity of the trade association that held the agreement “this does not mean that in the future these workers will want to be represented by another union.”
The end of the collective relationship, adds the specialist, represents a challenge for organizations because, as long as there is no new representation, the negotiation of working conditions will be conducted on an individual basis. “Having these negotiations, face to face with each one of the workers, would be very time-consuming and bureaucratic.”
In situations such as the health emergency due to Covid-19, for example, when some companies needed to reach agreements with the workers to protect the employment sources, individual relations posed the greatest challenge, Sofía Gómez points out.
What is the companies’ role?
In the legitimation of collective relationships, companies play an important role, but this role, by law, must be played without intervening in the process. “Technically, it is a process that only concerns the unions and the workers, and they are the ones that must organize themselves, the employer must remain removed from the process”, explains Óscar de la Vega.
In this sense, the decision of companies to participate in these events comes from a lack of knowledge of the Federal Labor Law, which can make the procedure more complex. “They involve themselves in the spirit of facilitating the processes, and that is a violation of the principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining, particularly when you have union disagreements and, if they happen in companies with high exportation to the United States, they could face a rapid response mechanism”, he warns.
Under this dynamic, in the opinion of Sofía Gómez , the role played by companies can only be one of “accompaniment” to facilitate communication between the union and its members and to allow workers to become involved and exercise their rights.
“The issue of the legitimation of collective bargaining agreements will play out to be a highly important filter for those unions that do not have any justification whatsoever for existing.”
DIRECTING PARTNER OF FERRAN MARTÍNEZ ABOGADOS.
“Employers Have to be very respectful, they cannot go beyond the powers provided by law, to avoid interpretation as an act of interference in the process.”
LABOR PRACTICE LEADER AT CREEL ABOGADOS.
“Technically, it is a process that only concerns the unions and the workers, and they are the ones that must organize it, the employer must remain removed from the process.”
Óscar de la Vega,
PARTNER AT D&M ABOGADOS.