October 1, 2020

Validation of Mexican Collective Bargaining Agreements during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Pablo Sáenz and Fernanda Magallanes

As a result of the 2019 Mexican Labor Law reform and the signing of the USMCA, the Protocol for Validating Existing Collective Bargaining Agreements, which was published in the Official Journal of the Federation on July 31, 2019 (“Protocol”), entered into force on August 1, 2019. Based on such change, all unions in Mexico must validate their collective bargaining agreements within a maximum term of four years, which ends on May 1, 2023.

The validation process involves unions consulting with their members and having them vote on whether to approve the contents of their collective bargaining agreement. It is important to note that wages under such collective bargaining agreements are reviewed on an annual basis, while the overall terms of the agreements are reviewed every two years. In order to comply with the validation requirement, and for unions to register and schedule their consultations, the Mexican Department of Labor and Social Welfare (“STPS” for its acronym in Spanish) created the online site Event Registration System for Validation of Collective Bargaining Agreements, which will be launched when the Federal Center for Labor Conciliation and Registration begins operations.

Notwithstanding the above, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexican unions’ ability to conclude the process of validating their collective bargaining agreements has been hampered by not being able to gather their union members to conduct the voting process. Therefore, to conduct this type of meeting, unions must not only comply with the legal requirements and those contained in the Protocol, but they must also comply with: (i) the Technical Guidelines for Health Safety in the Workplace Environment, published by the Department of Labor and Social Welfare on May 18, 2020; (ii) the Specific Technical Guidelines for the Reopening of Economic Activities, published in the Official Journal of the Federation on May 29, 2020; (iii) the Criteria for Vulnerable Persons Susceptible to Developing Complications or Dying from COVID-19 in the Reopening of Workplace Economic Activities, published by the Departments of Health and Labor and Social Welfare on July 17, 2020; and (iv) the protocols and other criteria published by local authorities of each Mexican state.

It is also important to consider that these meetings may be held only when the Covid-19 signal light monitoring system of the city where the meeting is to take place is orange, yellow or green on the date designated for the meeting. Accordingly, unions will have to carefully schedule the voting, report in advance to the STPS when the vote is planned to take place, and must take into consideration that the meeting place guarantees accessibility, social distancing and protection of the safety and health of the unionized employees.