By: Mtro. Federico Anaya Ojeda - May 2008 -
On November 8 a commission composed of representatives of employers and workers was installed, to create a new Contract Law of the Textile Industry. The hearing took place at the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare in the presence of Secretary Emilio Gómez Vives. What was the object? Saving and integrating the little textile industry we have left.
First what a contract law is should be explained. A Contract-law is a collective agreement binding in a given branch of industry, federal or local. In Mexico there are only Hulera branches, sugar, textile radio and television. Within the textile industry there are four different law contracts that are Silk, Trimmings, Wool Knitwear. Federal Labor Law defines law contract as an agreement between one or more trade unions and various employers, or one or more unions of employers, in order to establish the conditions under which the work must be paid on a particular branch of industry, and it was made mandatory in one or more federal entities in one or several economic areas covering one or more of such entities, or across the country. The goal of the law is that there are contracts equal to the entire industry situation which has lost its reason for being noadays.
To create a contract its conclusion must be requested contract before the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, or the Governor of the State or Head of Government, according to the federal or local character, by trade unions holding collective agreements evidencing representation of two-thirds of unionized workers, at least, of a branch of industry in one or more federal entities in one or more economic areas, covering one or more of such banks or across the country. The youngest of contract law in the textile industry is about sixty years old.
In each company, contract administration-law is taken care of by the union which represents the most workers. The loss of most declared by the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration of the administration occurs.
Contracts-law may be reviewed each year in regard to salaries in cash for daily fee every two years in their clauses. The older law of contracts and therefore the amount of benefits conquered through this mechanism, has suggested that it does not increase the clauses of contracts law for over ten years, preferring only to review the salary involved. Yet the contract law has become unaffordable for many companies that have had to close their doors unable to afford it.
The contract-law could end by mutual consent of the parties representing two thirds of the industry or at the conclusion of the reviewing process, if labor unions and employers do not reach an agreement, unless there is a strike. Unions logically, more for a nostalgic practice, do not want to end the contract law and perhaps for the same reasons some employers have resisted to it.
The problem of contract law and especially in textiles, is that natural causes can no longer keep adding features and increasing salaries for the working class, and not for lack of merit of the workers but for external reasons that make it impossible to continue competing with the environment. Asian smuggling, excessive tax burden, costs of inputs and the lack of soft loans for retooling have put us on the line.
Employers have preferred to close their factories than keeping losing. Others have decided to no longer bound by the contract law, supported by labor leaders aware of the bad sitution of the industry. Other immune from legal loopholes have changed their purpose, having the contract law gone and it has allowed collective bargaining with features very similar to those established by law. Of the fifteen thousand three hundred workers and companies involved in the contract law knitwear, involving five thousand today participate no more than thirty companies. Each year there are fewer workers and fewer companies. Renew or die?? Send and acute dieback contracts or create new law for the conservation of jobs.
Labor unions or employers may request the Arbitration Conciliation to changue the working conditions contained in collective agreements or contracts when economic circumstances justify it or when the increased cost of the life would lead to an imbalance between capital and labor. This modification must be done through a collective dispute of an economic nature, and it will only work if the unions agree.
In the preamble to our Federal Labor Law states as follows:
"Collective contracts and contracts pursue law as one of its purposes the establish working conditions during specific periods. But because of unforeseen circumstances it may occur to be render impossible the strict application of the agreed conditions. Article 426 gives workers and employers the right to request to the Conciliation and Arbitration, through conflicts of economic nature, to changue working conditions.
This solution is intended to enable workers and employers, in the cases determined by law, that are contained in sections I and II of Article 426, obtained from the Conciliation and Arbitration to changue working conditions. This is an action that can be brought before the Conciliation and Arbitration, which is independent of the possibility that workers and employers enter into agreements on the same issues, which, as already explained in a previous paragraph are valid provided if workers' rights are not affected."
That is, the possibility of reducing collective agreements if possible, when economic circumstances warrant such reduction, or there is an imbalance between capital and labor. The best tool to perform this action is by the means of conciliation and to avoid injury to workers rights, negotiated benefits must be settled according to law.
The government sees this attempt with a very good face, a renewal will require hard and dense work. secretary Gómez Vives himself has been very aware of this negotiation. He knows and has loves thetopic for many years since he was head of the Office of Civil Facilitators, and clinched numerous salary review negotiations and contract benefits law. The Government recognizes that the parties should sit down and talk to find out what they have done in the past sixty years and if necessary rectify. They believes that the modification of contracts law is only part of the solution. The other would be the granting of soft loans for the purchasing machinery and energetic combat smuggling.
The labor sector, through its most representative leaders, Gott, Lara, Cruz Sanchez Moreno Aguilar and Delgadillo, have made clear that workers can not continue to bear more weight on his shoulders. However, they have made the decision to sit at the negotiating table to resolve what is the most to the working class. What ca be more convenient than saving jobs when in survival game companies? They claim that this negotiation may be the watershed for the government to finally provide appropriate support to the textile industry.
We have two options to follow:
The first result is the not gradual or as slow death of the Contracts Law The few employers who comply with the contract law of the textile industry will stop using it, either by lowering the curtain or for self-preservation.
The other is the institutional solution. The contract must be renewed . The contract law must be agile. The administrative burden of managing benefits gained by the years of the contract should disappear, In order to maintain sources of work it is a necessary sacrifice. Without violating any Mexican worker rights but offering coping mechanisms. Slowly, with the help of the authorities, those employers that were seen in the need to give back to the contract law, will have to return to institutionalization. And they will willingly!