MSN has been working with international apparel brands and trade union and labour rights organizations to tackle widespread systemic barriers to workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in Mexico and the failure of Mexican government institutions to protect and enforce this fundamental right at the workplace.
One of the biggest obstacles to freedom of association for workers in Mexico is the prevalence of "employer protection contracts," simulated collective agreements signed by employers and "official" unions or corrupt lawyers, which serve to "protect" the employer from the emergence of truly representative and democratic trade unions and genuine collective bargaining to improve wages and working conditions. Protection contracts are negotiated without the knowledge and/or consent of workers and are often in place in a factory prior to the hiring of any workers. Mexican labour rights experts estimate that the vast majority of collective bargaining agreements in the country are in fact protection contracts.
MSN has engaged with apparel brands that source from Mexico to promote a positive climate for freedom of association within factories producing their goods and to challenge the use of protection contracts in their supply chains. Some of the proactive steps international companies can take include mapping the presence of protection contracts in supplier factories, promoting worker awareness of their rights to freedom of association and to bargain collectively, improving auditing to identify and address protection contracts and other obstacles to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and more.
More from MSN about protection contracts, and other obstacles to freedom of association in Mexico and what we are doing to promote this fundamental human right at the workplace:
Part of MSN's work to promote Freedom of Association in Mexico has focused on engaging with international apparel brands on steps they can take to ensure that their Mexican suppliers respect the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Our strategy has been to leverage brand influence on their suppliers to achieve a more positive climate for freedom of association in Mexican supply chains.
MSN's Freedom of Association in Mexico Tool Kit, which was updated in December 2014, sets out how brands can strengthen their FOA policies, auditing procedures and corrective action plans, as well as communication with vendors, suppliers and licensees on those policies and expectations. It also promotes greater transparency so that workers are aware of their rights and any agreements negotiated on their behalf.
A tale of worker organizing, vultures, corruption ... and time travel.
The original Spanish-language version of this comic book was published in 2010 by the International Campaign Against Protection Contracts with the support of a number of Canadian, US, European and Mexican unions and labour rights NGOs.
The Mexican National Miners’ Union (Los Mineros) is challenging the results of a union representation election at the Finnish-owned PKC auto parts factory in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. According to the official count, Los Mineros narrowly lost the vote – 2,311 to 2,509 – to a “protection union” affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) that was supported by the employer.
On January 30, 8,000 workers at the Arneses y Accesorios de México auto parts factory in Cuidad Acuña were informed by their employer that the company had signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), without their prior knowledge or consent.
On December 20, 2010, unidentified robbers broke into the offices of the Worker Support Centre (CAT), a labour rights organization that has been supporting organizing efforts at two Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) factories in Puebla, Mexico, and ransacked the office, destroying equipment and causing more than 200,000 pesos (US$ 16,500) in damage.