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ILO complaint filed against Mexican government for violating freedom of association

The Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) has examined violations of ILO Convention No. 87 by the Mexican government. During the plenary session earlier in June, workers’ representatives reported serious and repeated acts of violence against trade unionists, and blamed the government for the death of four members of IndustriALL affiliate Los Mineros during a conflict in 2017 and 2018 at the Media Luna mine, owned by Torex Gold.

Unions said that protection contracts (illegitimate collective bargaining agreements between an employer and an employer-dominated union), favoured by the current government, constitute an infringement of freedom of association and the right to genuine collective bargaining.

“Protection contract guarantees the lowest labour costs, and no need to negotiate with workers. In Mexico, protection contracts has been a vital part of state policy and economy since the 1960’s. The model has prospered and spread to cover all industrial sectors”, says to Suzanna Miller, IndustriALL’s project and rights officer.

However, the Mexican government and their accomplices in various business sectors denied the facts and argued that there was no objective basis to the claim that this practice was designed to undermine freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Similarly, a Mexican employers’ representative said that “there is neither harassment nor dismissals, and that there is collective bargaining, as well as social and labour peace”.

The Committee pointed out that it has asked the government to work with the social partners on introducing laws and practices to address problems related to protection contracts since 2015. But still today, every new investment in any industrial sector automatically includes a protection contract signed in advance.    

The workers’ group demanded that a special paragraph be included for Mexico calling for the ILO to appoint a direct contacts mission. However, this was not included in the Committee’s final recommendations. 

The Commission called on the government to provide detailed information on measures taken in application of the final recommendations before the next meeting of the Committee of Experts in November this year. Even with a change of government, Mexico will remain on the CAS’s supervision list until 2019.


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