Introduction

In December 2012 a major amendment to the Federal Labour Law came into force. However, the amendment overlooked certain issues, which President Enrique Peña Nieto has addressed in the Daily Justice Programme.

On April 28 2016 the president submitted to the Senate several initiatives amending the labour and employment provisions of the Constitution and the Federal Labour Law. The president's political party forms the majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and there appears to be a political willingness to approve these proposals. This update reviews the initiatives and assesses what their impact would be.

Proposed amendments to Constitution

The initiatives seek to eliminate the conciliation and arbitration boards provided for in the Constitution. Instead, federal and state courts specialised in labour matters would resolve individual litigations.

Each conciliation and arbitration board comprises government representatives, employees and employers. The executive branches of both the federal and state government have found this structure to be unsatisfactory for present conditions, and the transfer of the resolution of individual labour conflicts to specialised courts has been deemed more convenient.

However, it is also proposed that before any lawsuit is filed before a labour court, the employee and employer must – as a prejudicial requirement – submit their case at a conciliation centre. These would be autonomous government agencies whose main goal would be to prevent litigation through amicable negotiations and settlements during the corresponding hearing.

Finally, the jurisdiction of labour authorities at a federal and state level would be reorganised. It is suggested that a federal and self-governing agency be created to register all collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and unions. This agency would also act as a conciliation centre, but only at a federal level.

Proposed amendments to Federal Labour Law

The proposed amendments to the Federal Labour Law are intended to:

  • enhance regulation of the CBA filing and registration process;
  • establish rules regarding strike notices demanding the execution of a CBA; and
  • introduce additional provisions for the voting process for representation claims filed by unions.

In order to register a CBA, an employer would need to prove beforehand that it applies to certain employees who contribute to the development of its permanent and essential business, and that such workers are aware of such collective covenant and the existence of a union representing their interests.

Strike notices demanding the execution of a CBA would not be processed during the period in which the authority is resolving whether a CBA previously submitted by the employer will be registered.

Finally, specific rules will be introduced to reduce the ability to use a voting process for representation claims. Specific rules will also be introduced pertaining to:

  • the voter registration list;
  • the conditions and measures for carrying out the voting process; and
  • the rights of workers, employers and unions during such proceedings.

Comment

The amendments to the Constitution and Federal Labour Law would likely require further legislative amendments or practical measures to be implemented within 12 months of the date on which they became effective to ensure that they have the desired effect.

The proposed new judicial structure in which collective matters are managed at a federal level is intended to increase Mexico's competitiveness and provide faster solutions for individual employment conflicts. However, if the proposed amendments to the Constitution are effected, further reform of the Federal Labour Law should be introduced immediately in order to harmonise the two.

Regarding the proposed amendments to the Federal Labour Law on collective issues, while it would be valuable to implement changes to attain more transparency, the proposed CBA registration requirements appear to be quite burdensome. Further, additional legal provisions should be introduced to prevent deceitful strike notices that demand the execution of a CBA filed by a union that does not represent the employees of a particular workplace.

For further information on this topic, please contact Francisco Udave Trevino at Santamarina y Steta by telephone (+52 55 5279 5435) or email fudave@s-s.mx). The Santamarina y Steta website can be accessed at www.s-s.mx.

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