Thousands of Mexicans Protest Proposed Changes to Labor Law

MEXICO CITY – Several thousand Mexican union workers protested in this capital against a bill that would legalize outsourcing and make it easier for businesses to fire employees.

The workers marched Thursday from the Zocalo, Mexico City’s giant main square, to Congress, where lawmakers are expected to approve the bill before April 30.

The proposed legislation, introduced by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, promotes outsourcing, extended probation for new employees, limits the right to strike and extends the mandatory cooling-off period in labor conflicts, among other modifications.

The bill “violates the rights won by workers and promotes dismissals and informal employment,” telecoms union leader Francisco Hernandez Juarez said during a rally outside Congress.

“The PRI bill is an attack on workers’ rights and that’s why we have come to stop it and defend collective rights,” he said.

Academics and labor lawyers agree that passing this measure would spur the growth of the underground economy and the migration of young people to organized crime.

Octavio Loyzaga, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said that the bill contemplates the participation of adolescents and women in the labor market and “responds only to corporate interests by promoting outsourcing and the elimination of collective bargaining.”

“This bill is an attack on the constituton and a brutal procedure against the progress labor has achieved,” he said.

He described outsourcing as a way to subordinate the working clase, since if it is approved, unjustified dismissals will be much easier for companies to carry out, he said.

“Businessmen asked PRI lawmakers to help them have greater mobility with workers, to be able to change their activities and their hours, and the party gave them what they wanted with a view to having their support come election time,” Professor Enrique Garza said. EFE

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