At the beginning of the 20th century, Mexico’s economy suffered from severe poverty which brought to an economic, political, social, and cultural crisis. The most affected classes were the workers and farmers. They had an enormous working schedule, low wages, and huge debts. They even deprived an ability to raise voice against their employers and other authorities.
International Labour Organization (ILO) allowed workers in Mexico to have a right to work freely and bargain collectively with their employers. However, Mexico’s Federal Labour Law made it difficult to workers to follow their free choice. This pushed local workers to raise movements for greeter freedom of association (FOA) against major obstacles on their way to free choice of union like institutional barriers, corruption, and other illegal practices bumped by federal and official authorities. For instance, the revolutionary movement initiated by the Flores Magón brothers asked for a cancellation of inherited debts, the establishment of a normal workday schedule, and increase wages.
Most of the workers had no access to collective bargaining agreements (CBA) and weren’t able to resist unions that has been chosen at given workplaces. These unions were formed without any participation and even knowledge of workers. They have been deprived of the opportunity to choose a trade union on their own. Illegal agreements have been signed with the complicity of the employers and without any consent of workers. Lack of transparency brought to the fact that their rights have been violated and all the workers have been taken under strict control.
Mexican labor authorities control unions and put special elections to identify which of them will have greater support. Since then, unions had the power to control workers and uproot any protests. Formerly, workers were usually asked to vote publicly in front of labor authorities who had an effect on the workers’ ability to vote freely. Therefore, even if secret ballot vote elections have been organized, still dishonest election practices continue to be an example of a lack of democracy.
Workers in Mexico often face some institutional barriers that can restrict FOA and they could be impeded from having the right to join or form a union by themselves. Some employers can make negotiate protection contracts that are identified as legal by law and authorities. This is used to tie employees’ hands even if they do not agree with a document.
Although any form of discrimination in base on the free choice of union is considered illegal, employers can use a blacklisting of workers, where they can punish them for free choice and organizing of independent unions. Moreover, if someone tried to organize a democratic union they could practice Exclusion Clauses, and workers couldn’t deny their associational rights in fear of being hired.
Social media has been used by revolutionists as a weapon against authorities in order to urge workers to protest against coercive activities. Revolutionists actively attracted workers to join the movement. However, the companies started to fire participants and this movement has been worn down.
Although, the revolutionists faced strong opposition on their way to establish justice, they succeed in carrying changes to the 1917 Constitution about the rights of workers. They won the right to have a free choice union and elect representatives to their unions’ committees. Since then, people started to understand the important role of democratic unions and collective bargaining agreements. Unfortunately, despite the fact that all the essential social rights are now officially recognized, the right to employment, freedom association, and right to bargain collectively still systematically violated.
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