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Mexico senate approves labor law revisions

November 13, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech in Queretaro, Mexico, on Monday, November 12, 2012.
Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a speech in Queretaro,… (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP/Getty…)

MEXICO CITY Mexico's senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would restrict workers’ rights to strike and relax hiring and firing rules for businesses.

The bill — passed after weeks of drama and debate does not contain some of the original language that sought to reform the country’s notoriously sclerotic unions. Those measures were stripped out by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, won this year after promoting himself as a serious reformer, a claim his opponents now doubt more than ever.

Some of the largest and most powerful unions in Mexico are widely considered to be warrens of corruption. They also tend to support the PRI.

Among other things, the bill as passed would allow companies to pay an hourly wage; hire workers for trial periods and fire them easily if they prove unsuited to the work; and outsource some work. Supporters of the law have argued that more flexible labor rules will ensure that Mexico remains competitive globally.

Some leftists, like Sen. Manuel Bartlett of the Workers’ Party, said the bill did little to help Mexican laborers, many of whom already toil for meager wages.

“This law is an attack against social justice, and the only ones who will benefit are going to be the business owners,” Bartlett said Tuesday evening.

The senate passed the bill on a 99-28 vote. It now heads to the desk of outgoing President Felipe Calderon, who is expected to sign it.

The union-revision language was stripped from the bill, then reinserted, then stripped again as the bill made its way through the legislative process.

Cecilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.

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