|Detail of poster for artistic exchange & the FAT's 13th convention|
|Artist Beatriz Aurora|
Mexican Labor News & Analysis
March , 2014, Vol. 19, No. 3
Contents for this issue:
- Mexican President Praises, but Many Protest Energy Reform on Anniversary of Expropriation of the Foreign Oil Industry
- Impact of Energy Reform Now Clear: Two-thirds of Oil Reserves Auctioned Off
- Unemployment, Pension Pass House, Face Opposition in Senate
- Internternational Women’s Day: Celebrations, Reflections, Protests
- My Life in Juarez: Women Speak Out
- OceanografÍa Fraud Case Has Implications for Workers
- Mexico Found Guilty of Blacklisting Mexican Migrant Workers in Canada Suspected of Being Pro-Union
- AFL-CIO "NAFTA at 20" Report Suggests TPP Needs Different Model
- Labor Shorts: Audi Workers Get a Union; Some Mexicana Workers Finally Back to Work
- Social Statistics: the Rich; Mexico Dangerous for Business
Mexican President Praises, but Many Protest Energy Reform on Anniversary of Expropriation of the Foreign Oil Industry
The seventy-sixth anniversary of Mexico’s expropriation of the foreign oil industry on March 18, 1938 saw a variety of meetings, demonstrations, and protests in Mexico City and throughout the country. While President Enrique Peña Nieto praised Congress and the Mexican people for passing last year the energy reform that opened Mexico’s petroleum industry, other political and union leaders led protests. The activities of the dissidents demonstrated the continuing opposition to Peña Nieto’s policies by a significant section of Mexican society, but also showed the fragmented character of the left and the labor movement.
For decades the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) led the commemorations of the anniversary of the expropriation—and this year was no different, though what was being praised by Peña Nieto was practically the opposite of what had been celebrated before. While past presidents had emphasized President Lázaro Cárdenas’ courage in seizing the oil fields, refineries, and shipping docks of Standard Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, and other foreign petroleum companies, this year Peña Nieto, accompanied by other PRI leaders and by Carlos Romero Deschamps, head of the Mexican Petroleum Workers Union (STRPRM), praised the opening of the Mexico’s oil industry to foreign investors, including some of the same firms that had previously been expropriated, compensated, and nationalized.
The Petroleum Workers Union with the Reform
Peña Nieto praised the “daring of the Mexican people” for having the courage to open the industry to private investors including foreign firms, a decision which would results in “more oil, more gas, and more electricity.” But, he said, “Let there be no doubt that with the energy reform the Mexican government will continue to be the only owner of the petroleum reserves, of the revenue of the industry, and of the Mexican Petroleum Company (PEMEX).”
After an un-programmed intervention by Romero, head of the union, speaking in favor of the energy reform, accompanied by shouts and cheers from the oil workers who accompanied him, Peña Nieto affirmed that union workers' jobs were secure and that the rights of workers in the oil industry would be respected. The president expressed his pleasure at knowing that the oil workers were “at the side of the president as they had been on so many occasions.”
The Opposition Divided
Meanwhile, in another gathering in Mexico City, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, son of Lázaro Cárdenas who nationalized the oil industry, the founder and presidential candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and three-time presidential candidate (1988, 1994, and 2000), proclaimed that he remained opposed to the energy reform and to the amendments to Articles 25, 27, and 28 of the Mexican Constitution, and that he would continue to work to overturn them. Cárdenas was accompanied by Jesús Zambrano, president of the PRD, by Miguel Ángel Mancera, mayor of Mexico City, and by other party leaders.
At about the same time, in his hometown of Villahermosa, Tabasco, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, led about 5,000 of his supporters in a “patriotic oath in defense of petroleum.” López Obrador, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the presidential elections of 2006 and 2012 and since then founder of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), a new political party, has called for a national referendum on the energy reform and has promised that he would lead a movement of civil disobedience to challenge the energy reform.
The Left and the Independent Unions March
In Mexico City and throughout the country there were protest demonstrations against the energy reform by the PRD and MORENA as well as by several independent federations and unions, most important the National Union of Workers (UNT) and the New Workers Central (NCT), and by the Peoples Congress for a Constituent Assembly along with other social movements and local organizations. In various cities the demonstrations included teachers and students, young activists, and retirees.
The Mexico City march involved the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) and the National Coordinating Committee (la CNTE) a dissident caucus within the Mexican Teachers Union, and the Peoples Congress, as well as many other groups. Even in Mexico City, there were several different opposition events representing different organizations and political tendencies with various political agendas.
In Guadalajara, Jalisco marchers carried Mexican flags, homemade signs, and chanted slogans, one of the popular ones being “No, no, no we don’t want to be an American colony, we want to be a free and sovereign country.” (No, no, no, no nos da la gana de ser una colonia norteamericana; sí, sí, sí, sí me da la gana, ser una nación libre y soberana.) In Chilpancingo, Guerrero protesters constructed a “wall of shame” with photos of Peña Nieto, Senators, and congresspersons who voted for the energy reform.
While the opposition political parties, unions, social movements and community organizations failed to come together around a common leadership and program of action, there remains do doubt that the energy reform and the other structural reforms of the Peña Nieto administration remain unpopular with a significant part of the Mexican people.
Impact of Energy Reform Now Clear: Two-thirds of Oil Reserves Auctioned Off
The full impact of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reform became clear at the end of March as the Mexican Petroleum Company (PEMEX) reported that it had auctioned off to private and foreign investors the right to explore and drill in some two-thirds of Mexico’s oil reserves, amounting to the equivalent of all of the oil produced in the last 110 years, according to Gustavo Hernández García, head of PEMEX Exploration and Production. This is the first time in 75 years that these reserves have been opened to private parties.
The contracts for the right to explore and drill include 41 percent of underwater reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and virtually all exploration in deep water and shale gas.
Martí Batres, president of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), said that the auctioning off of these reserves was unconstitutional and also unsupported by any secondary legislation to implement the energy reform. He said that PEMEX and its private associates plan to increase production from 2.5 to 6 million barrels a day, a production target that he called irrational. “This will also produce more greenhouse gases, global warming and other environmental consequences,” he added.
Unemployment, Pension Pass House, Face Opposition in Senate
The Mexican House of Representatives by a vote of 287 to 167 approved the creation of both a national universal pension program for those over 65 and an unemployment insurance program. A similar bill is now before the Senate where the unemployment program faces critics from the opposition parties and the labor unions, largely because of plans to fund unemployment with money taken from a workers’ housing program.
When, back in September of 2013, President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed the creation of Mexico’s first unemployment insurance program and a national pension for those of 65 it was not clear how he would finance them, though he implied that it would be financed by taxing the wealthy. “Those who have more income will pay more,” he said. Now it seems that workers will have to pay for their own unemployment insurance.
The unemployment insurance plan put before Congress by the president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party plans to begin financing the program with the funds of the Institute of the National Fund for Workers Housing (INFONAVIT). These are employer contributions in lieu of wages that have been paid toward a workers’ housing fund, some 190 billion pesos (1 Mexican peso = 7.7 US cents). Some 22 million workers who have paid into the fund may be eligible for housing; 5.2 are currently eligible.
The plan provides that workers who have been unemployed for 45 days, have no income, and participate in training and employment programs, will become eligible for unemployment insurance payments. The payments in the first year, beginning January 2015, will amount to 580 pesos per month (US$44.42); but in 15 years will rise to 1,092 pesos (US$83.63). The Mexican minimum wage at present is 67.29 pesos (US$5.15) or US$226.00 per month.
Testifying before the Mexican Congress, Alejandro Murat Hinojosa, head of INFONAVIT, said that the use of these funds representing 60 percent of the fund’s capital, would not lead to the decapitalization of the housing program. Carlos Ramírez Fuentes, of the National Commission of the Savings System for Workers Retirement (CONSAR), reported that his agency’s funds had not increased as hoped because, as a result of the economic crisis, workers had withdrawn 8 billion pesos, leaving only 5 billion pesos for future retirement.
Opposition Parties, Some Unions Oppose Plan
The left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the conservative National Action Party (PAN), and the small progressive Citizens Movement have all indicated that they will oppose the use of INFONAVIT to finance the unemployment insurance program.
Some unions also opposed the plan. The National Union of Social Security Workers (SNTSS) believes that the 5 percent contribution of employers to INFONAVIT belongs to the workers and that “mutilating it would represent a hard blow against the working class.” The Authentic Labor Front (FAT), an independent labor federation, also opposes this funding proposal arguing that it is little more than a reallocation of workers funds to be “looked after” until he or she becomes unemployed. A FAT spokesperson said that this was a kind of “make believe” program, with the government simply proposing to mask the real unemployment problem.
Still, despite the criticism and opposition, it seems that the PRI and its satellite the Mexican Green Ecology Party (PVEM) may be able to win enough votes from PRD and PAN Senators to pass the measure.
Internternational Women’s Day: Celebrations, Reflections, Protests
International Women’s Day, March 8, provided the occasion for both celebrations and for reflecting upon the status of women in Mexican society. A march in Mexico City organized by various women’s groups and community organizations carried banners calling for a struggle against neoliberalism and for socialism. But that march was the exception.
In most of the International Women’s Day events women celebrated, reflected, or expressed their protests in sedate activities calling for incremental reform. Mexican federal, state, and local agencies held forums that variously called for greater political participation, for institutional political reform, or as Beatriz Santa María Monjaraz, general director of the Women’s Institute of the Federal District put it, for recognition that “we have, step by step, created a city of democratic liberties.”
There was something for every woman. A Women’s Services Fair in Chapultepec Park, a “run for your rights” six kilometer event in the Olympic Villa, and an “Orange Day”—wearing orange—against sexual violence at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. There was also the announcement that the Second Women’s Parliament will take place in Mexico City in April. The various events expressed the degree to which the women’s movement has become institutionalized, especially under the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) governments that have held power since 1997.
International Women’s Day was first organized by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 and adopted in 1910 by the Socialist International made up of socialist parties mostly from Europe in that era. Socialist and Communist parties and governments generally continued to celebrate the holiday since then, though International Women’s Day languished in some parts of the world during the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the Cold War, until the second wave feminists of the 1970s revived the holiday in the United States, Europe and Latin America. In 1977, the United Nations adopted March 8 as International Women’s Day and subsequently so did many other countries. The Mexican government has regularly celebrated the holiday for many years with left, center, and right parties each interpreting the day by their own lights.
Assessing the Status of Women in Mexico
The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reports that almost one out of five households (18.5 percent) is headed by a single parent. Some 85 percent of those are headed by women, mostly separated, or divorced women. These women heads of households work to find work and a living wage in the formal or informal economy.
The Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OCED) made up of the world’s 34 most developed nations issued its “Panorama of Society 2014” which showed that women do not participate equally in the economy. While the male participation rate in the economically active population is 78 percent for men, it is only 44 percent for women. Only in Turkey is there a more unequal rate; there men have a participation rate of 70 percent and women only 23 percent.
Women make up 33.9 percent of all manufacturing workers, 11.1 percent of construction workers, 47.6 of private service workers (non-financial), 14.9 percent of transport, mail, and warehouse workers, and 26 percent of workers in commerce, based on 2011 and 2012 INEGI figures, the latest available.
At the same time, according to INEGI, women tend to work many more hours than men, some 54.2 hours for women and 45.8 for men in total labor at work or at home.
Some 2.5 million Mexican women earn their living in domestic service, many of them as live-in servants, on-call virtually 24 hours a day, certainly work 12 or 16 hours cooking, cleaning, and caring for children for below the minimum wage six days per week. Mexico has yet to sign the International Labor Organization Convention 189 on domestic workers’ rights, though it is said to be considering it.
In terms of their studies, while 30 percent of women in college study the humanities and social sciences, only 14 percent are involved in the hard sciences, according to the National System of Researchers (SIN).
Mexico reports a growing number of murders of women, long recognized to be a serious problem in the society. One out of every ten homicides are women. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported 1,316 female homicides in 2003 while there were 2,764 in 2012, an increase of 764 or 110% in a decade. Many of these took place in the last five years and may be attributable to former President Felipe Calderón’s war on the drug cartels.
Women in the Unions
While women make up over 30 percent of the labor force and though many of them are in unions such as the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE), the National Union of Social Security Workers (SNTSS), and the Flight Attendants Union (ASSA), men continue to dominate the higher and intermediate levels of the union hierarchy and even the local unions. While the Authentic Labor Front (FAT) has for years had women in its top leadership and has had a special program that focuses on women's participation and development, few other unions have followed its example. The Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC), one of the “official” unions aligned with the PRI, has announced that it is opening up new spaces for women, though one might well be dubious about the commitment of this union to genuine female participation.
[For useful information, tables, and charts, see the INEGI package of materials ]for International Women’s Day (in Spanish).
My Life in Juarez: Women Speak Out
By Kent Paterson
Growing up in Ciudad Juarez, Rosa Ines Minjares did not think the episodes of violence against women that she saw flashed all over the television screen would personally affect her. All that changed one day in 2009 when her close friend, Maria Guadalupe Guardado, was murdered. The 16-year had been tortured, raped, shot twice and then dumped in an empty lot, according to Minjares.
“My life changed when my friend was murdered. Her murder remains unpunished like many of the other cases,” Minjares told an audience at an Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez (UACJ) gathering held to commemorate March 8, International Women’s Day.
“I live with the fear that there are many murderers on the streets,” Minjares said.
At 19, Minjares has internalized, analyzed and expressed the grand paradox of Juarez: On the one hand, the Mexican border city is a dynamic place that represents the lure of opportunity and a chance for economic advancement. On the other, it is a place where residents are burdened with the effects of the drug trade, organized crime and gender violence, the young Juarense said.
“I feel sad and insecure, but I intend to overcome this,” Minjares said. “I love my city and my roots, and that’s why I live with hope.”
In Minjares’ worldview, Lupe Guardado was one person who did not live to see the great hope of Juarez come to fruition. Raised by grandparents, Guardado dreamed of becoming a teacher, Minjares told FNS.
Minjares’ story was among several featured at a UACJ panel of new women writers whose works will appear in the forthcoming, third edition of My Life in Juarez: Voices of Women, a periodic book that showcases non-professional writers from different walks of life.
Since 2006, 180 women have participated in workshops designed to encourage and publish women’s voices, said Veronica Corchado, spokesperson for the Art, Community and Equity Collective, a local civil society group which helps organize the literary production. “The objective is to link the community with academia,” Corchado said of one of the project’s goals.
Previous editions of My Life in Juarez are out of print, the cultural activist added, after about 2,000 copies of each run were given away free.
Featuring stories from Minjares and other new writers, the 2014 edition will be published with support from the Ford and Angelica foundations, according to Corchado.
The new stories speak about violence and discrimination, but are also graced with tales of resistance, sheer survival and a determination to beat the odds.
Sharing the stage with Minjares and other fellow writers, 13-year-old Jennifer Paola Javier fought back tears as she recalled bullying and marginalization because of a facial tumor that left her physically scarred.
Befriending a girl who suffered cancer, Javier said the pair was treated like “dirty rats” by taunting peers. The teen credited a psychologist’s help, along with a profile of her plight in a local newspaper, for building self-esteem.
“I feel good about myself,” Javier said. “I have a mark on my face. The important thing is to be a good person.”
Hailing from a different generation than either Minjares or Javier, Rosa Maria Sanchez recounted how she rose from poverty to pursue a professional career that had long been very difficult for a woman from her background to attain. Now a social worker, Sanchez told how her family had moved to the borderland from the state of Durango when she was only two years old.
To survive, family members worked as domestic helpers, labored as factory workers and sold homemade bread. Different work and school schedules made a collective family meal nearly impossible, Sanchez recalled. The struggling woman supported herself by becoming a hair stylist, but never abandoned her dream of attending the university, a goal she achieved much later in life than the “traditional” student.
“At 53 years of age the most gratifying thing is that the students call me teacher,” Sanchez concluded.
The UACJ writers’ panel and award ceremony culminated a week-long series of activities staged by community members in cooperation with the UACJ’s Social Sciences Institute, Humanities Department and the Graduate Program of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies.
The My Life In Juarez writing project, said organizer Veronica Corchado, provides a very personal outlet for women to articulate their deepest feelings and experiences. The issue of violence was a common thread in this year’s submissions, she said.
“It seemed that the women don’t have a way of addressing violence, and it’s done through writing. It’s a way of telling stories that can’t be told otherwise, another channel for words, different than the media, non-governmental organizations…”
Not all the women who participate in the writers’ workshops, where they exposed to the techniques of the craft, are interested in getting published. “Some say I want to write just for me, and that’s super valid,” Corchado added.
In Ciudad Juarez, women poets and rappers round out the rich ranks of writers.
An acupuncturist in her day job, Dr. Armine Arjona is also a poet, novelist and short story writer. In an interview, Arjona admitted she delves into “heavy subjects” whose characters include pedophile priests, killers and narco-traffickers. But the writer lightens her text with doses of eroticism and humor.
Handed an award for her literary contributions by the UACJ, Arjona evoked laughter from a crowd in her reading of “La Cosecha,” a story about poor campesinos from the Chihuahua mountains who attempt to make a fast buck by cultivating marijuana but wind up losing their crop to the chomping jowls of “vice-ridden cows.”
Like Rosa Minjares, Arjona has been personally touched by violence. She described the late poet Susana Chavez, murdered in January 2011, as a good friend with a bent for trusting people.
Chavez was known for her poems about the women’s murders that first gained international attention back in the 1990s. Arjona criticized the early release of one of the three young men arrested for Chavez’s killing as another example of the impunity that still haunts Juarez.
Springing from the hip hop culture, Batallones Femeninos (Femenine Battalions) consists of 11 young women, 8 from Juarez and 3 from other Mexican cities. In between family and work responsibilities, the national group records rap songs via the digital cloud and delivers public performances at varied venues, including on the loud, rickety buses that clamber along Juarez’s pot hole-laden streets.
“(Bus riders) get surprised, because rap is usually identified with men,” said Batallones Femininos co-founder Susana Molina. “But after hearing us, they thank us because the words are realistic. We’ve had an impact on older people because of the content.”
Similar to Arjona’s prose, Batallones Femininos’ words are raw, unnerving, bold and imaginative.
“Rap is what you live,” Molina mused. “(Our) lives in Juarez are marked by femicide, violence and youth poverty.”
A brief but rousing performance by Molina and two other Batallones Femininos members was the grand finale of the week at the UACJ dedicated to women.
Scenes from the streets of Juarez on the weekend of International Women’s Day 2014 evidenced that the issues verbalized by the women rappers and writers were far from resolved.
For the umpteenth time, mothers and supporters of scores of disappeared girls and women staged a protest at the regional office of the Chihuahua state prosecutor, demanding results from investigations.
In the downtown zone, where many of the women were last seen alive, the ink on old posters of the missing faded into the aging buildings almost like historical life-blood seeping into the city’s soul.
The long anticipated, expansive plaza on Avenida 16 de Septiembre, constructed to revive the commercial corridor as a pedestrian-friendly space, is now blocked off to cars and open to foot traffic. On one side of the new plaza, where another construction project is still underway, big pink and black crosses, the symbols of the fight against femicide, have been painted by an artist or artists on the concrete barriers.
[This article originally appeared in Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico. For a free electronic subscription email:firstname.lastname@example.org.]
OceanografÍa Fraud Case Has Implications for Workers
The Mexican government seized the Oceanografía Company in late February following Citibank’s investigation of bogus loans made by the company amounting to between US$200 and US$400 million which had caused Citibank to report a loss in 2013. Oceanografía based in Ciudad del Carmen, provided essential services to the Mexican Petroleum Company (PEMEX). Informed observers expect the company to be declared bankrupt.
Not surprisingly, Oceanografía’s owners not only apparently cheated Citibank, but also shortchanged their own employees. The Mexican Institute of Social Security reports that the company evaded its responsibility to pay its required contributions into the social security fund which pays for workers health care and retirement as well as other services. The company moved workers from one subsidiary account to another as a way of evading payments as well as paying less than it should according to the government.
There had also been worker complaints to the Secretary of Labor that Oceanografiá had failed to pay into INFONAVIT, the government’s worker housing program. Workers also complained of wage theft and unjust discharges.
Mexico Found Guilty of Blacklisting Mexican Migrant Workers in Canada Suspected of Being Pro-Union
A press release of the UFCW Canada Human Rights Department.
Vancouver – March 21, 2014 – The British Columbia Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) has ruled that Mexican government and consular officials blacklisted Mexican seasonal migrant workers from returning to Canada who were suspected of being union sympathizers. The board also found that Mexico had altered documents in an attempt to cover up its union-busting activities. The evidence had been presented to the BC Labour Relations Board in 2012, by UFCW Canada Local 1518 – the union representing migrant workers at Sidhu & Sons Nursery Limited in the BC Lower Mainland.
Thursday's ruling by the BCLRB comes after three years of legal wrangling by Mexico to stall and quash the charges against it. "It has been a long battle, but finally the truth has won out," said Ivan Limpright, the president of UFCW Canada Local 1518, following Monday's ruling. "Every worker in Canada has the right to join a union, including migrant workers. Mexico's blacklisting and coercion violated Canadian laws and the rights of the workers involved."
The blacklisting charges had originally been brought to the board in 2011. Hearings and testimony commenced at the labour board in January 2012. The hearings were temporarily suspended after Mexico petitioned to the BC Supreme, on the grounds of sovereign immunity, to force the labour board to quash the evidence it had received – including leaked Mexico government documents, as well as testimony from former consular officials that corroborated the blacklisting activity. The BC Supreme Court ruled against Mexico's petition, and upheld the BCLRB's right to finally rule on the blacklisting evidence.
"Mexico reached across our borders to blacklist and break the human and labour rights of workers in our country," says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. "Mexican President Peña Nieto is well aware of what happened here, despite the denials of his bureaucrats and consular officials. The time for pretending is over. Now it is time to respect the laws of Canada."
UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers union) is Canada's leading and most progressive private-sector union, with more than 250,000 members across the country. For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has led a campaign for the labour and human rights of domestic and agriculture workers in Canada. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates 10 agriculture worker support centres across the country, including three AWA centres in British Columbia.
AFL-CIO "NAFTA at 20" Report Suggests TPP Needs Different Model
Press Release from the AFL-CIO
(Washington, DC – March 27) The AFL-CIO today issued a report, NAFTA at 20, which summarizes the unfortunate experiences of workers in Mexico, Canada and the United States in the twenty years following passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With the NAFTA model proving to be the template for additional trade deals in the past two decades and the Obama administration negotiating two massive trade deals, this report is particularly timely.
The AFL-CIO’s NAFTA at 20 can be found here: www.aflcio.org/NAFTAat20
This report demonstrates that the high hopes of NAFTA proponents have not been realized. Instead, the report argues that, “On the whole, NAFTA-style agreements have proved to be primarily a vehicle to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers, consumers, farmers, communities, the environment and even democracy itself.”
“There is no success story for workers to be found in North America 20 years after NAFTA,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The NAFTA model focuses on lifting corporations out of reach of democratic governance, rather than solely reducing tariffs. This report should serve as a cautionary tale to the Obama Administration and Congress as they consider negotiating and implementing new trade deals.”
The report concludes that “the TPP and other forthcoming trade agreements do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past 20 years.” The choice isn’t between the outdated NAFTA model and no new trade. It’s between the corporate-rights model and trade that drives shared prosperity and inclusive growth for people and the planet.
The AFL-CIO has available a wide array of experts to elaborate on NAFTA at 20as well as to discuss negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) , Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
Labor Shorts: Audi Workers Get a Union; Some Mexicana Workers Finally Back to Work
Audi Workers Get a Union
Workers at the two-year old Audi plant in San José Chiapa, Puebla now have a labor union approved by the Mexican government’s Secretary of Labor. Álvaro López Vázquez, who had been a member of the executive board of the Independent Union of Workers of the Volkswagen Automobile Industry of Volkswagen (SITIAVM) has taken the position as head of the Independent Union of Workers of Audi of Mexico (SITAUDI) for the 2013-20 term. The union leadership will be elected every six years. The union which represents 3,000 workers reached an agreement for wage increases of 5.6 percent through 2016. López Vázquez emphasized that the creation of this union was not an anti-democratic procedure, but that twenty of the first workers hired had formed the union. He also stated that the new Audi union would be autonomous from its sister union at Volkswagen.
Some Mexicana Workers Find Jobs at Aeroméxico and Aerovías De Mexico
When Mexicana went bankrupt in August 2010, it left hundreds of pilots, flight attendants, and ground crew workers without jobs, and despite their protests and lobbying, they were unable to get the government or private investors to put the planes back in the air. Now, almost four years later, Ricardo del Valle of the Union Association of Aviation Flight Attendants (ASSA) has announced that Aeroméxico has agreed to hire 350 flight attendants while the union continues to fight for the pensions and severance pay of all of the workers. Another 140 flight attendants will also be hired by Aerovías de Mexico. Altogether a third of the original 1,500 laid off flight attendants are back at work.
Social Statistics: the Rich; Mexico Dangerous for Business
According to Forbes magazine, the ten richest Mexicans who made their fortunes in telecommunications, mining, and commerce, are worth US$132.9 billion. Their wealth is equal to 11 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product or to the income of half of all Mexican homes (15.7 million) each year.
Mexico: Dangerous for Business
Mexico is the fifth most dangerous country in Latin America for doing business according to FTI Consulting, Inc., after Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala and Haiti. A spokesman for the company said that Mexico’s security situation showed little signs of improving.