Mexico violates ILO Convention 87, says new complaintPhoto: IMF president submits complaint

The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) has lodged an unprecedented complaint against the Mexican Government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Switzerland. Submitted by IMF President Jürgen Peters, the complaint calls on the ILO to condemn Mexican laws which prevent freedom of association and contravene ILO Convention 87, which guarantees core labour standards to all workers. Under Mexican law the vast majority of collective agreements are so-called "protection contracts" which force workers to join unions nominated by company management rather than one of their own choosing. In practice, the laws mean only unions that have the support of companies and government can operate in Mexico.

Mexico violates ILO Convention 87, says new complaintPhoto: IMF president submits complaint

The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) has lodged an unprecedented complaint against the Mexican Government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Switzerland. Submitted by IMF President Jürgen Peters, the complaint calls on the ILO to condemn Mexican laws which prevent freedom of association and contravene ILO Convention 87, which guarantees core labour standards to all workers. Under Mexican law the vast majority of collective agreements are so-called "protection contracts" which force workers to join unions nominated by company management rather than one of their own choosing. In practice, the laws mean only unions that have the support of companies and government can operate in Mexico.

At the same time, the law does not require any democratic structures in which collective contract demands are discussed and decided or where collective contracts concluded are submitted to a vote by the employees. 

When such structures do exist, the votes are usually conducted with a show of hands at a meeting and not by secret ballot, although workers won the right to have secret ballot voting in September 2008.  However, existing contracts do not have to be published or made accessible, not even to members of the union. 

"The IMF's complaint urges the ILO to condemn a systematic violation of freedom of association, to call upon Mexico to properly transpose ILO Convention 87 into national law and to promote democratic structures in the industrial relations of that country," said IMF President Jürgen Peters.

IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi said protection contracts are used in many countries to prevent unions and workers from mobilizing to secure better rights and conditions.

"The pressure generated from official action by the ILO would send an important message to governments and companies globally that protection contracts must not be used to take away workers' rights to freely organize," said Mr. Malentacchi.

Mr Peters concluded: "Mr. Tapiola, we hope that in judging the significance of this complaint, the ILO will agree with our view and that the competent fora will conduct a detailed, but hopefully rapid discussion and take a clear position, so that in the future in Mexico as in other countries freedom of association will exist not only on paper, but also in practice.