MEXICO CITY — Mexican workers at the General Motors pickup plant in central Mexico voted to end their collective agreement. This allows them to eliminate one of Mexico’s most powerful labour unions as their union, under a new trade arrangement.
With safeguards agreed to by Mexico and America in order to guarantee a fair vote this was the first time labor rules were tested under the agreement that succeeded the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
This result marks the defeat of one of Mexico’s most powerful unions, but it also allows workers freedom to choose which independent group they believe will be best representing their interests.
After finding irregularities by Mexico’s labor minister, the April vote was suspended. The United States then filed the first complaint under its labor enforcement mechanism (USMCA) which came into effect in last year.
Unionized workers will continue to receive the same pay and benefits, regardless of whether they are seeking new representation or forming a union. A second vote will be required to choose a new union. The current union may also try to retake the contract.
The labor ministry stated that 3,214 workers, out of 5,876 GM workers, voted against the agreement. 2,623 workers voted for it.
Workers who voted against the vote claimed that their union failed to fight for higher salaries at the plant, which produces thousands of profit-making pickups per year.
G.D. said that he was able to reach the highest salary for his job years back. He asked to keep his identity private out of fear of reprisals.
Miguel Trujillo Lopez, part of Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), led the ballot counting along with observers from Mexico’s National Electoral Institute and United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO).
Neither GM nor the union immediately responded to our requests for comment.
According to the ministry, the vote was conducted “without incident”, and will help establish a precedent for good practices.
These votes are needed at Mexican unionized workplaces under the USMCA labor rules. It is designed to eliminate sweetheart agreements between businesses-friendly unions or companies.
GM workers, as well as labour activists, praised the result and said it would encourage workers in other parts of the industry to do the same by removing long-standing unions.
Willebaldo Gomez from CILAS, a Mexican labor rights organization, said that workers could now discuss their futures and work conditions for the first time.
Nevertheless, workers could still be on a long road to forming a union.
Gomez said, “The second victory will be to build an independent union that watches out for their rights and looks after their interests.”
Publiated at Thu, 19 August 2021 18:22:15 +0000