Mexico: Independent unions win significant wage increases

Photo: La Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana

Independent unions at five manufacturing facilities in Mexico, most of which are in the auto manufacturing and auto parts sectors, have recently negotiated significant wage increases for their members. 

Contributing factors that helped achieve these victories are: 1) the right of workers under Mexico’s labour justice reform to vote by secret ballot on existing collective bargaining agreements and in union representation elections, and 2) the right to file complaints if workers’ associational rights are violated under the tri-national trade agreement.  

To date, such victories have taken place in export factories where workers have received training on their rights under the labour reform and the trade agreement and have been actively involved in long and difficult struggles to win democratic unions. 

  • Panasonic Automotive Systems | In February 2023, the independent union (SNITIS) at the Japanese-owned Panasonic Automotive Systems factory in Reynosa, Tamaulipas was successful in negotiating a wage increase of close to 12%, on top of the 9.5% salary increase and 3.5% signing bonus achieved in September 2022. 

    On April 22, 2022, SNITIS won a union representation vote (recuento) against a protection union affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).
  • Teksid Hierro de Mexico | Also in February, the national independent union Los Mineros at the Teksid Hierro de México auto parts factory in Frontera, Coahuila negotiated a 9% wage increase and a 6.8% increase in various benefits such as holiday bonus, Christmas bonus, grocery vouchers, and attendance bonuses. Additionally, they obtained a biannual (twice a year) economic bonus ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 pesos depending on the worker's salary category. 

    On September 19, 2022, Los Mineros won a representation vote at the factory against a CTM-affiliated protection union. Teksid Hierro is owned by the multinational auto manufacturer Stellantis. 
  • Saint-Gobain Auto Glass | On March 4, the Free and Democratic Union of Saint-Gobain Workers achieved a tentative agreement with the French-owned auto glass company in Cuautla, Morelos. If ratified by its members, the agreement will provide a 9% wage increase and 2% increase in monetary benefits. The agreement will be retroactive to January 1 of this year. 

    In September 2022, the independent Saint-Gobain union had won a representation vote against an employer protection union affiliated with the Confederation of Workers and Campesinos (CTC). 
  • GM Silao | On March 13, the independent union (SINTTIA) at the GM pickup truck factory in Silao, Guanajuato announced that it had negotiated a 10% wage increase for 2023 on top of the 8.5% increase that it had had achieved in 2022. In February 2022, SINTTIA had won an overwhelming victory in a recuento against three company-friendly unions. 
  • 3M Mexico | On March 28, a new independent national union, La Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana (La Liga), announced that it had signed a tentative agreement with the employer at a 3M factory in San Luis Potosí that makes everything from Post-It notes to N95 masks. If ratified by its members, the agreement will provide an increase in the base salary of 8%, plus a 3% increase in monetary benefits. In October 2022, La Liga won a representation vote over a CTM-affiliated protection union.  

More News on Rapid Response Complaints
In Piedras Negras, Coahuila, workers at the Manufacturas VU auto parts plant are one step closer to negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement. On March 31, the US and Mexican governments released their joint plan to remediate what the Mexican government called “serious irregularities” hindering workers’ associational and collective bargaining rights. 

The corrective actions required include:

  • VU must publicly declare in writing its commitment to respect the associational and collective bargaining rights of the workers.
  • US-based company executives must visit the plant to further assure workers of that commitment. 
  • The company must also take appropriate actions – including termination – against human resources staff found to have violated workers’ rights. 

In addition, the Mexican government will ensure that complaints about anti-union threats and violence are properly investigated and addressed, conduct worker rights training at the factory, and monitor the facility with regular inspections.

In December 2022, La Liga and MSN’s long-term partner the Border Committee of Workers (CFO) filed a second rapid response complaint with the US government against VU, after the company refused to negotiate in good faith with the union. La Liga won the right to represent the workers in an August 2022 recuento

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has accepted its first Rapid Response complaint, which was submitted by the Canadian union UNIFOR and SINTTIA. The complaint alleges that there are serious labour rights abuses occurring at the German-owned Frankische auto parts factory in Silao, Guanajuato. 

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