Info on Maquilas

Trabajadores/as de la Maquila Protestan ante la Organización Mundial del Trabajo


Contact Person: Martha Ojeda
CJM Executive Director (210) 240-1084 February 26, 2010

The Telephone Workers’ Union of Mexico, The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM,) the Democratic Lawyers Association (ANAD), and the labor organizations, unions, and other allied organizations who are CJM members on February 22nd presented a complaint to the Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labor Organization (ILO) meeting in Mexico City. (Please see the link OIT ).

The complaint focuses on violations of Mexican maquiladora workers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. CJM, maquiladora workers, and CJM member organizations compiled the evidence in the complaint from cases in the maquiladora industry located on the northern border of Mexico. The cases date from 1994, the year the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect.

The complaint demonstrates a persistent and systematic pattern of violations to the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining as established in the Mexican Constitution, the Federal Labor Law, and International Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) as exemplified in the following cases: Sony, Han Young (Hyundai), Custom Trim (GM, Ford & Chrysler), DURO (GAP), LAJAT (Levi’s), y KSS (GM, Ford & Chrysler).

The purpose of presenting the complaint is to denounce and redress violations of workers’ rights by multinational corporations and the Mexican government,, which protects management-friendly “ghost” unions and supports bargaining practices that fail to hold companies accountable. The complaint will provide an opportunity for maquiladora workers to secure enforcement of their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, rights that have been eroded within the context of neoliberal economic and political policies.
Neoliberal policies over the past several decades have promoted economic integration at the regional levels by implementing free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by the US, Mexico, and Canada, as the alternative to national and sustainable development for developing countries.

The neoliberal economic model imposed a new labor culture of “flexibility” in labor relationships that has undermined workers’ rights. Like many other developing countries, Mexico was eager to join the global economy and pay the price of complicity with the interests of multinational corporations: a cheap labor force and ghost unions that offer foreign investors protection contracts.

Located on the northern border of Mexico, in close proximity to US consumer markets, the maquiladoras typically sign collective bargaining contracts with ghost unions even before the multinational corporation has begun operations there. The ghost unions agree to protect the company, and exist only on paper because they are not elected by the workers. As result, the workers are not informed that they have a union or collective bargaining rights. Once the workers (most of whom are women) organize themselves to improve their salaries and worker conditions, they face harassment, repression, and arrest by corporations, ghost unions, and the government. Workers who speak out to defend their rights are labeled as trouble makers and may be blacklisted by the company. Blacklisting is a violation of workers’ right to work, to freely associate, and to collectively bargain to improve their work conditions, as established in the Mexican Constitution, the Mexican Labor Law, and Conventions 87 and 98 of the ILO signed by Mexican government.

Although the Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labor Organization (ILO) is taking place in Mexico at this time, y the Mexican government has refused to ratify ILO Convention 98.
The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental coalition composed of organizations from Mexico, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Dominican Republic and other countries strategically linked to the maquiladora industry in Mexico, ; of religious, labor, environmental, community, women and pro- immigrant groups and other sectors that share the objectives of the Coalition. We strive, in a coordinated and multi-disciplinary way, for a better quality of life, sustainable development, human rights, and for economic and environmental justice.

Our core efforts are to improve working conditions and living standards for workers in the maquiladora industry and in their communities. We place special emphasis on defending the rights of women in the maquiladoras who suffer discrimination, humiliation, and sexual harassment. CJM supports workers’ struggles on the shop floor and in the community.
Our actions are carried out wherever maquiladora companies and multinational corporations violate workers’ rights or impact negatively the right of communities to protect and safeguard their environment, culture, and traditions.

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