Deputies go for fines for companies that hinder minority unions

Those who participated in the forum on the initiative of deputy Susana Prieto Terrazas (Morena) agreed on something: it is unprecedented. The proposal seeks to sanction companies that discriminate, give different treatment and hinder the formation of minority or independent unions. The majority of specialists and union representatives agreed, but there were also positions against it.

The labor reform of 2019 It opened the doors so that in a workplace, private or public, there can be more unions besides the majority. But it did not include rights for the new organizations, said Susana Prieto, at the opening of the forum convened by the Labor and Social Welfare Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

“This has caused unfair labor relations, discrimination, dismissals, harassment and workplace harassment of workers for belonging to or forming independent union organizations,” he said. Two examples of them are the newly created unions at the General Motors (GM) plant in Silao, Guanajuato, and at the Tridonex maquiladora, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, he noted. Both managed to wrest ownership of the collective bargaining agreement (CCT) from the Confederation of Workers of Mexico (CTM).

The initiative proposes to amend various articles of the Federal Labor Law, among them, 388, to establish that in the event of a discriminatory act against “minority unions and their members, the labor courts will impose fines of up to 1,000 Update Measurement Units ( UMA) for each affected worker. This equates to more than 96,000 pesos per worker at the value of 2022. In addition, an indemnity of 90 days of salary to each injured employee.

Also, the employer will have to offer a public apology. And for one year, it will expose in a visible place of the facilities the sentence where it is indicated that it incurred in a discriminatory act or unequal treatment.

So far, there are no sanctions for companies in the event of unjustified dismissal, denial of vacations or obstruction of the collective organization, indicated the lawyer Víctor Manuel Ortega Morales, a specialist in minority unions. It is enough to repair the violation”, such as restoring people to their jobs, or authorizing their breaks. But the damage that is generated is more than economic, he added, because it prevents them from exercising other rights.

“This reform is a fundamental tool to dismantle the union corporatism”. The laborista recalled the recent leadership election in the Petroleum Workers Union of the Mexican Republic (STPRM), where Ricardo Aldana, close to the previous leader Romero Deschamps, was the winner.

“The workers decided on continuity. They are not children, nor manipulated people, the worker is a thinking being, but requires elements like this to dismantle corporatism. Only if the floor is made even unions and there are sanctions and guarantees of non-repetition, the bosses will think twice” before harassing those who try to break the status quosaid.

teeth of reform

The majority unions they usually have the ownership of the CCTs, therefore, they are the ones who have the right to review and negotiate contracts with the companies. They are the majority because for decades they were the only ones that existed, the workers of the same work center did not have the option of joining another, because the law did not allow it. And many times, when they organized, they were repressed.

Employers took advantage of this to encourage white unions, that is, they did not have true representativeness of the staff. Or, they colluded with the leaders of the hegemonic group to prevent the dissident organization.

The labor reform established new rules to democratize the union life. Among them, that the CCT must be legitimized by all the members of the union through a vote. The vote for this procedure and for the election of the leaders must be personal, free, secret and direct. The changes also allow for multiple unions to work in the same workplace.

But to strengthen the new organizations, the initiative requires companies to grant union licenses with salary to those who have a defense or representation commission. It asks to have union dues from its members, propose jobs and intervene in the negotiation of the CCT. And it prohibits employers from “depriving them of the essential means to defend the rights of their members.”

The collective contract benefits they are for all staff, regardless of whether they are affiliated or not, or if they are part of a new union. But it is common for the majority unions to tell the company: “that worker is punished”, for being a dissident, “don’t give him permission. The one who is violating the law is the employer, at the request of the union. There is a collusion and both parties are very happy (sic). We have to fight against that,” said the president of the Labor Commission in San Lázaro, Manuel Baldenebro (Morena).

“I don’t want to rule out the reform that is under discussion, but sometimes we overregulate. In this country the big problem is not the laws, but impunity. They do whatever they want and nothing happens to them,” he added.

For his part, Manuel Fuentes Muñiz, an academic from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), spoke in favor of the reform. He proposed that the fifth part of the CCT review commission be made up of representatives of the minority unions.

He considered that heas sanctions They should not only be economic, but also contemplate the dismissal of managers or even the arrest “of those who flout the law”, as is done in other countries.

However, Jesús Gilberto González Pimentel, general secretary of the Union of Workers of the Judicial Power of the Federation, said that “the reform is based on a non-existent premise: it is assumed that there is an asymmetry between majority union and independent”, but there is no such, he maintained. Passing these changes would only divide the workforce, he said.

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