Mex­ico-US trade deal un­likely to boost low Mex­i­can pay­checks

Manteca Bulletin - - Dollars & Sense/ Nation -

MEX­ICO CITY (AP) — Many in the U.S. gov­ern­ment, and even some in Mex­ico, say the new trade agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries will help in­crease the ex­tremely low wages in Mex­ico’s auto in­dus­try.

But ac­tivists say the trade agree­ment won’t do that — or stop the steady flow of jobs south — un­til Mex­ico changes its la­bor laws and elim­i­nates pro-com­pany “pro­tec­tion con­tracts” that ef­fec­tively leave work­ers help­less. The agree­ment an­nounced Mon­day in­cludes some vague prom­ises in that di­rec­tion, but es­sen­tially leaves it up to Mex­ico, where a web of gov­ern­ment com­plic­ity so far has blocked progress.

Ac­tivist Pablo Me­d­ina says he and 57 fel­low work­ers were fired from the Goodyear tire plant in San Luis Po­tosi on July 9 af­ter try­ing to or­ga­nize an in­de­pen­dent union at the fac­tory, where two years went by with­out em­ploy­ees even see­ing the union that sup­pos­edly rep­re­sented them.

Goodyear em­ploy­ees staged a spon­ta­neous strike on April 24 af­ter an em­ployee passed out and broke three ribs in the heat of the vul­can­iz­ing depart­ment, and work­ers got news that the long-awaited in­crease to their $1.50-per hour wages would amount to only about 50 cents per day.

“The working con­di­tions in­side the Goodyear plant are very un­safe, the em­ployee turnover is very high, and of course the wages are very low,” said Me­d­ina, who is now fight­ing to get his job back.

In an emailed state­ment, Goodyear Mex­ico de­nied the plant was un­safe, say­ing it is “a com­pet­i­tive em­ployer within the area” on wages. It said this year’s wage in­crease was 6 per­cent — which is roughly equiv­a­lent to last year’s in­fla­tion rate. It ac­knowl­edged a group of em­ploy­ees was fired af­ter the work stop­page, but de­nied there were 57.

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