Labor rights of custodians of cultural heritage are in danger

For the first time the six labor unions that belong to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) joined in a manifesto addressed to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador; to the Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero; the Secretary of the Treasury, Rogelio Ramírez de la O; and the general director of INAH, Diego Prieto Hernández, to raise his voice against the new project of general working conditions that the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit is proposing (SHCP) for this organism.

In a press conference they explained that with the suggested modifications “the labor relations of workers, academics, professionals, technicians, administrative workers and manuals are altered in form and substance,” they add that this seeks to ignore their labor regulations and socioeconomic benefits, but beyond As a result, these decisions may affect the performance of the substantive functions of the institution and thereby put the assets of Mexicans at risk.

“It is a sui generis institution, because it does not only carry out normative tasks. Regarding the protection and conservation of cultural heritage and monuments, it also carries out tasks that have to do with scientific research, we do applied science in the various disciplines of anthropology and history to contribute to the solution of the social problems of the country ”, said Gustavo Ramírez Castilla, secretary general of the National Union of Professors of Scientific Research and Teaching of INAH.

He said that for more than 80 years the INAH has been dedicated and committed to protecting along with the INBAL, that which gives recognition and prestige to our country and which is carried not only to all regions of Mexico, but also abroad. “Those who carry out the great task are its workers in their different categories and specialties. We are scientists, restorers, curators, architects, biologists, custodians, that is, this community of workers has specialized training and a social commitment that has always been evident ”.

It is about 3,433 workers and that in turn affects 6,468 employees who are supported through the current payroll of the institution, all contained in chapter 1000. This Thursday the six unions agreed to defend “until their last political and legal consequences” the rights acquired by the workers of the INAH, in accordance with the provisions of article nine of the INAH Organic Law, the third and fourth transitory articles of the decree creating the Ministry of Culture and the applicable legal regulations. In addition, they will not accept or sign the general conditions different from what they currently have as a labor norm.

Carlos Arturo Hernández Carreño, general secretary of the sector of technicians and professionals of the INAH, of the National Democratic Union of Workers of the Ministry of Culture, clarifies that what the Ministry of Finance does with the observations that it has turned to the INAH, is de facto ignorance of what is written in transitory article 3 and 4 and violates article 9 of the INAH Organic Law, “Due to regulatory regulations of the employment relationship that we cannot ignore, much less modify.”

For her part, Corina Ximena Rojas Muñoz, general secretary of the National Union of Restaurateurs of the INAH, assures that it is not only the ignorance of labor rights, “we also consider that it is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to make modifications at the labor level within the institutions ”. He said that it is also a proposal that goes backwards in the ladder models for entry and encourages non-transparent processes, which facilitates corruption for the admission of workers, thus professionalization would be affected, since skills are in second place, they point out. “In the end, what is going to be transgressed is cultural heritage, cultural heritages, and that affects all Mexicans.”

A little history

On October 15, 2021, the Ministry of Finance responded to a procedure initiated by the General Directorate of the INAH for the second time in April 2021. Last year a procedure had already been carried out that was answered by the Secretaries of Culture and Finance, indicating that the general working conditions of the INAH could not be authorized, therefore a new procedure was carried out. Now the Treasury said that “it is possible to authorize the general conditions but with a series of changes that are presented as a project,” some new CGT that are adverse to the workers. There are around 30 articles that would be modified or deleted. The answer given by the Treasury is not favorable at all, ”explains Ramírez Castilla.

As a precedent, in 2015 the INAH e INBAL They were transferred to the newly created Ministry of Culture, “since then there has been an onslaught, weakening these institutions.” There is even a larger context where the budget has been cut for all institutions in the culture sector, particularly for INAH; in a pandemic there was a substantial cut in operating expenses for conservation and research projects, which has brought serious deteriorating consequences; more than 200 million pesos were lost. “Now this situation is added where the Treasury proposes to create new general working conditions.”

Luis Ojeda Godoy, general secretary of the National Union of Conservative Architects of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, stressed that this risk is derived from not attending by the authority the correct administrative procedures to recognize all the documentation and support that they have for their working conditions in the transfer that was made at the time from the Ministry of Public Education to the Ministry of Culture. “An issue that is inherited from the past administration and that has not been addressed in this one.”

The six unions announced that collectively they will be making decisions for the future, since today the general working conditions unify them. This is a first step and an institutional response is expected, but if it is not obtained, in addition to the specific routes of struggle of each union, a much broader national plan of action has been considered that would be announced shortly.

“Not only can we see the institution as the political instrument that emanates from the Mexican political constitution, the institution has to be linked and articulated with its human resources, which generate an intellectual heritage and applied science”, says José Enrique Vidal Dzul Tuyub, general secretary of the National Union of Workers of the Secretary of Culture-INAH.

Main effects with the proposal of the Ministry of Finance:

  • Lack of knowledge of labor rights.
  • The bilateral relationship is broken by establishing that the employment relationship with the Ministry of Culture is exclusively through the director of INAH. This is important because we are talking about specialized personnel who would cease to be in decision-making for the protection of heritage.
  • Admission and promotions would not be a transparent process but with a bias to determine who enters and who does not without a strict process of evaluation and selection of personnel with competitive competitions. This puts at risk that it is the most qualified personnel who reach the positions or promotions, in addition to the development of the training.

Unions created a series on YouTube called “Research at the INAH”, so that the general public knows in depth the various activities of researchers and the impact for the communities:

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