Recent Evolution of Labor Union Affiliation and Labor Regulation by xiw67167

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									XIV
Recent Evolution of Labor Union Affiliation and Labor
Regulation in Mexico
Fernando Herrera*
Javier Melgoza*




T       his chapter systematizes and analyzes the facts about labor union affiliation in Mexico aiming
to characterize labor relations in manufacturing activities. The analysis is primarily based on
statistical information derived from national income-expenditure surveys (ENIGH, 1992, 1994, 1996,
1998 and 2000) and national employment, wages, technology and training surveys (ENESTyC, 1995
and 1999).1 The first section breaks down information on the reach of unionization in Mexico
according to sociodemographic and labor characteristics of manufacturing workers. The second
part presents the dynamics of labor regulation by activity and size of manufacturing establishments.
At the end of the chapter we briefly make some general considerations on these themes.

LABOR UNION AFFILIATION

General Aspects of Unionization in Mexico

Mexican unionism languished during the nineties. Like related by the accompanying chapters of this
book (see the texts by García and De Oliveira and De Salas and Zepeda), auspices for the labor
landscape are dauntly negative. The main concern for Mexican labor unions was their inability to
cope with the mounting precariousness or worsening of labor conditions illustrated by the rapidly
rising segment of non-organized and unprotected workers in Mexico.
         Generally speaking, the prevailing trends among unionism along the past decade reveal a
considerable quantitative weakening.2 Both in absolute and relative terms (unionization rate), labor
unions shrunk between 1992 and the year 2000. Of course, employment was severely affected by
the mid-nineties crisis, however, once employment surged back in the second half of the nineties,
labor unions were lagging behind. A peculiar combination of old-dated structures, the rising labor
precariousness, political transition, an overt reorientation of the productive system3 and a lack of
alternatives explain this situation rather than the postmodern hypotheses (the coming to an end of a
society based on work, leisure as a choice, a lack of interest in unions among the young).
         During this period, the economically active population (EAP) kept on the growing track (see
table XIV.1.) initiated in 1988 and which would last until the end of 1995. Since we are using ENIGH
data, the effects of the crisis are observed until 1996, when the EAP reached its lowest level

*
  Faculty members and researchers at the Department of Sociology and the Master’s Degree Program in Social Studies at the UAM-I.
Fernando Herrera holds a Ph.D. in Anthropological Sciences, UAM-I and Javier Melgoza a Ph.D. in Anthropological Sciences and
currently heads the Department of Sociology at the UAM-I. They both won the National Award for Labor Research granted by the
Mexican Labor Department. Their e-mail addresses are: ffhl@xanum.uam.mx and mvlj@xanum.uam.mx

1
   The data from these two surveys are not comparable since national income-expenditure surveys are conducted in
households and inquire about workers when it is the case; whereas ENESTyC surveys are conducted at establishments and it
is the company’s director who provides the information. ENIGH’s data on unionized workers may be undervalued since the
workers might ignore they are affiliated to a protection union. ENESTyC surveys only report data on formal manufacturing.
2
  This weakening is of course also and perhaps predominantly qualitative. This chapter only deals with quantitative aspects.
There is, however, a large number of qualitative studies.

3
 See chapter XI in this same book, “Industrial Structure and Conditions of Work in Manufacturing” written by Enrique de la
Garza.



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(34,759,617 individuals). Since then, employment started to recover until it reached its peak level of
41,026,994 workers in the year 2000; a considerably higher figure than the 30,261,606 workers in
1992. It is very interesting to see in that same table that industrial employment did not show a
tendency to decrease, but had been growing constantly between 1992 and the year 2000. That is,
the unionizable population of the industrial sector (UPIS)4 grew throughout each of ENIGH‘s biannual
measurements so that it cannot be said that nineties were years of deindustrialization. Still some
changes did take place within the industrial sector.
          Broadly considered, labor union affiliation and employment walk along different paths.
Among all people composing EAP, the number of affiliated workers decreased in absolute terms from
a total of 4,116,919 in 1992 to only 4,025,878 in the year 2000 (see table XIV.1.). It is true that
affiliation recovered from the low point of 1996 (3,151,614), however, the level reached lies below
what was observed in the early nineties. The magnitude of this insufficiency is better understood by
regarding the matter in relative terms as the unionization rate in relation to the EAP fell from 13.6% in
1992 to 9.07% in 1996 from where it rose sluggisly up to 9.81% in the year 2000.
          One other issue is that of the disparate situation of both genders, whereas female affiliation
to labor unions increased in absolute terms (going from 1,386,111 in 1992 to 1,705,048 in the year
2000), male affiliation dropped from 2,730,809 to 2,320,830 in the same period. This means that the
net loss in labor union affiliation is male.
          Numbers concerning the universe of unonizable population among the industrial sector (the
afore defined UPIS) are more eloquent. It is well known that the core of unionism in Mexico has
traditionally been constituted by workers in services, particularly government services that in spite of
personnel cutbacks in recent years, shows a remarkable stability. For instance, the teachers’ union,
the SNTE (with over one million members) belonging to the Federation of State Workers (FSTSE), is
the largest labor union contingent in Mexico. On the other hand, agricultural workers did not
develop an influential labor union tradition mainly because of governmental opposition, but also
because peasants share other types of organizational traditions. So, it seems appropiate that we
focus on the industrial sector.
          In absolute terms, industrial union affiliation dropped heavily between 1992 (1,443,995
workers) and 1994 (1,007,128) as pointed out in table XIV. This initial drop was followed by a slow
recovery that crept up to 1,208,164 unionized workers in the year 2000 (almost 236,000 less than in
1992). In the case of men, there was a net loss (almost 300,000 unionized men less), whereas
among women there was a net growth of over 60,000. The absolute number of unionized women
ebbed and flowed: after descending between 1992 and 1994, in 1996 it rose to the highest ever in
the nineties: 305,485; in 1998 it decreased moderately to 282,570 and finally recovered towards the
year 2000 (291,999). There is enough ground to believe that economic crisis does not suffice to
explain the changes in unionization in the industrial sector. That is to say, contrary to what happens
in the EAP as a whole, the dropping affiliation precedes the crisis of mid-nineties affecting both
women and men. This may lead to think that the union affiliation crisis roots lies not on the next in-
waiting crisis but deep inside the industrialization model itself.
          As union affiliation rate among the UPIS showed a level of 22.1% in 1992, then descended in
1996 to below 15% from where it grew moderately until 1998 (15.5%) and finally descended again
to a level of 15% in the year 2000, it is clear that it does not present a lineal or regular behavior. Nor
is it directly linked to the evolution of employment but it does show the limitations of Mexican labor
unions to draw industrial workers to their ranks during times of economic recovery (a different
behavior from the workers who abandoned the unions in the crisis).

Some Significant Dimensions

The Unionized Population among the EAP
Broadly speaking Mexican unionized workers present sociodemographic and labor characteristics
that basically reflect the composition of the national population and the recent dynamics of the
national productive structure. This implies, for example, a clear tendency toward the relative aging


4
 Defined as the total number of waged, 14 years old or above, workers employed in industry that occupy a subordinated
position in work.



                                                           2
of the unionized contingents and a greater presence of workers in multi-skilled establishments
associated with the service sector. However, national sociodemographic and labor evolution do not
explain the recent situation of the unionized population in all its terms. It is necessary then to
consider other variables.

Table XIV.1. Unionized Population 1992 - 2000, Absolute Figures and Rates
                               1992           1994      1996      1998                          2000
EAP                            30,261,606 35,037,931 34,759,617 40,114,143                      41,026,994
Industrial Employment          8,119,017      8,694,003 9,135,950 9,651,595                     10,085,329
UPIS (1)                       6,523,233      6,761,930 7,041,156 7,376,209                     8,028,614
Unionized Workers              4,116,919      3,632,266 3,151,614 3,713,877                     4,025,878
Men                            2,730,809      2,191,897 1,826,720 2,262,455                     2,320,830
Women                          1,386,111      1,440,370 1,324,894 1,451,422                     1,705,048
UPIS Unionization              1,443,995      1,007,128 1,087,758 1,140,071                     1,208,164
Men                            1,212,473      817,923   782,273   857,501                       916,165
Women                          231,522        189,205   305,485   282,570                       291,999
EAP Unionization Rate          13.6           10.37     9.07      9.26                          9.81
UPIS Unionization Rate         22.1           14.9      15.4      15.5                          15.0
(1) Unionizable Population of the Industrial Sector.
SOURCE: The author’s own data based on ENIGH 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.

          If we classify affiliation to five-year age groups, we note that more than half of the workers
affiliated to a labor union are over 37 years old, whereas the younger groups (aged 26 or under)
only account for almost one third of the total (31.8%). If we analyze the unionized population
according to sex and age, we can see remarkable differences. Thus, men aged between 27 and 36
concentrate 30.1% of the total affiliation, whereas the most significant age group among women
corresponds to women aged between 37 and 46, accounting for almost 38% of the female
unionized population (tables XIV.2. and XIV.3.).
          Literacy and schooling levels among unionized workers are widely explained by the
dynamics of the Mexican education system. Thus, for the year 2000, over 99% of all union
members declared they knew how to read and write. At the same time, there has been an
increasing level of formal education among the unionized, to such an extent that for the year 2000
almost 80% of the unionized workers had schooling from ninth grade onwards (representing nine
years of formal education and more) of whom almost 23% had finished higher education.
          When considering the geographic dimension of unionization we regard beyond the mere
sociodemographic factors, into the characteristics of the economic development model
implemented since the mid-eighties. What stands out, in the first place, is the uneven distribution of
union affiliation throughout the country (table XIV.4.). The higher concentration (27.31% of affiliated
workers) corresponds to what can be called the capital zone5 that includes Mexico City and the
State of Mexico. The peninsular area, the opposite corner of the country, only accounts for 2.81%. If
we group the information on unionization at a regional level, the north of the country (the northwest,
the north and the northeast) concentrates about one fourth of this total (27.17%); the west and
central north zones account for a fifth of the total (20.18%); the central and the central gulf zones,
account for 16.42%; and finally the most agricultural and indigenous states, the South Pacific and
the peninsular zones account for less than a tenth (8.8%). It should be added that gender
differences are hardly significant in this field.
          In this respect, two aspects should be noted. First, that in spite of differences in the
absolute numbers of unionized workers in each region, the rates for the year 2000 present a
relatively low dispersion. Grouping the regions with the same criterion used beforehand in order to
see the percentual distribution we find that the northern region (the northeastern, north and

5
  We took the following zones into account: Northwest (Baja California North, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa and Sonora),
North (Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango), Northeast (Nuevo León and Tamaulipas), Central North (Aguascalientes,
Guanajuato, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas), West (Colima, Jalisco, Michoacán and Nayarit), Central (Hidalgo,
Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala), Central Gulf (Veracruz and Tabasco), South Pacific (Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca),
Peninsular (Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán), and Capital (Distrito Federal and Estado de Mexico).



                                                          3
northwestern zones) have an average rate of 17.14; the capital zone, 16.74; the central and central
gulf zones, 15.2; the western and central northern zones, 14.6; and, finally, at a much lower level,
the South Pacific and peninsular zones show a rate of 12.63. It is nevertheless necessary to point
to the fact that two zones that individually present extreme values do offer rates that are extremely
distant from each other: the northeastern zone with a rate of 21.85, and the South Pacific zone with
12.25.

Table XIV.2. Total Union Afilliation in Mexico, 1984 - 2000
          1984        1992          1994         1996       1998      2000
Total     3,390,137 4,116,919 3,632,266 3,151,614 3,713,877 4,025,878
Women 1,179,055 1,386,111 1,440,370 1,324,894 1,451,422 1,705,048
Men       2,211,082 2,730,809 2,191,897 1,826,720 2,262,455 2,320,830
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998
and 2000.

Table XIV.3. Total Affiliation by Age Ordered According to Importance Based on Data for the Year
2000 (percentages)
Age Groups 1992               1994         1996         1998         2000
27-31         18.05           15.72        17.27        15.25        16.33
37-41         14.04           16.15        16.56        15.41        16.03
32-36         18.69           21.06        16.39        18.26        15.71
42-46         10.63           10.50        12.89        13.91        14.73
47-51         6.23            6.05         7.78         9.96         11.17
22-26         14.17           14.79        14.27        12.73        10.65
52-56         4.24            4.61         4.49         4.59         5.84
17-21         10.60           6.76         5.97         4.50         4.61
57-61         1.71            1.56         2.14         3.05         2.78
62-66         0.41            1.82         1.05         1.41         1.38
12-16         0.71            0.41         0.67         0.44         0.28
72-76         0.13            0.05         0.02         0.15         0.27
67-71         0.38            0.48         0.41         0.14         0.21
77-81         0.0             0.0          0.10         0.01         0.0
82-86         0.0             0.04         0.0          0.18         0.0
Total         100             100          100          100          100
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998
and 2000.

Table XIII.4. Total Affiliation by Region Ordered According to Importance Based on Data for the
Year 2000 (percentages)
               1992            1994         1996         1998           2000
Capital Zone 28.75             29.08        19.82        24.39          27.31
Western        10.73           9.38         11.43        13.19          11.83
Northeastern 12.12             11.89        11.89        12.05          11.41
Central        5.56            6.95         10.55        9.52           9.58
Northwestern 7.21              8.26         9.01         8.33           8.73
Central North 7.64             7.31         10.00        6.75           8.51
North          6.58            8.10         10.25        8.78           7.06
Central Gulf 14.29             9.04         9.02         7.09           6.78
South Pacific 4.47             6.63         5.54         5.81           5.98
Peninsular     2.65            3.37         2.49         4.10           2.81
Total          100.00          100.00       100.00       100.00         100.00
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and
2000.




                                                 4
         The second aspect refers to the fact that the interregional gap was substantially
compressed downwards between 1992 and the year 2000 due to the fact that the decreases in the
rates were presented in a highly differentiated way. Seen separately, the decreases in the
northeastern zone (from 33.18 to 21.85), in the central gulf zone (from 33.25 to 13.46) and in the
capital zone (from 22.53 to 16.74) should be highlighted. On the other hand, the lower relative
decrease is found in the South Pacific zone, where the rate only decreased from 14.19 to 12.25.
The only exception to this behavior is found in the central zone, the rate of which increased from
14.41 to 16.93.
         The unequal distribution of labor union affiliation is not only a geographical matter: empirical
evidence shows that this unevenness is greater when considering the economic branch and
occupation of the unionized workers. Available data indicates that national unionization is highly
concentrated in activities corresponding to education services, research, health and social
assistance (41.6% of the total unionized population). If we add the activities associated with public
administration, defense, transport, communications, travel agencies, trade, private services,
financial services as well as hotels and restaurants, in 1988 this total surpassed two thirds of the
national unionization (68.84%). To summarize, the tertiarization of the economy is clearly correlated
to the distribution of unionization according to economic activity (table XIV.5.).

Table XIV.5. Distribution of Union Affiliate Workers per Branch of Activity (percentages)
Branch of Activity                                       1994      1996       1998
Education Services, Research, Healthcare & Soc. Assist.  43.57     42.74      41.57
Public Administration Services, Defense and Sanitation   9.72      9.39       9.55
Transport, Communications and Travel Agencies            8.19      6.34       5.45
Commerce                                                 3.41      2.79       5.27
Private, Assistential and Financial Services             2.07      2.91       2.36
Restaurants and Hotels                                   1.75      2.12       2.02
Other Services                                           2.75      2.35       2.62
Total Services                                           71.46     68.64      68.84
Chemicals, Coal-derived Products, Rubber and Plastic.    3.69      2.82       4.43
Textiles, Garment and Leather Industries                 3.84      4.42       4.38
Foodstuffs, Beverages and Tobacco                        5.34      4.64       3.79
Electric Power, Gas and Water                            2.60      2.47       3.06
Metallic Products, Machinery and Equipment               5.49      9.95       8.40
Extractive Activities                                    1.59      2.07       2.20
Paper, Paper Products, Printing and Publishing           1.45      1.31       1.13
Basic Metallic Industries                                0.56      0.78       0.83
Wood Industries and Wood Products                        0.38      0.43       0.81
Construction                                             2.01      1.02       0.79
Non-Metallic Mineral Products                            0.77      0.72       0.72
Primary Activities                                       0.81      0.60       0.46
Other Manufacturing Industries                           0.01      0.12       0.15
Total                                                    100.00    100.00     100.00
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998
and 2000.

        Different research studies have directly associated the tendency toward greater
unionization with the size of the employing establishment, company or institution, so we think it is
important to regard available data in the light of such assumption. According to table XIV.6., most
unionized workers concentrate in large (34.89%) and small (33.05%) establishments whereas still a
vast proportion of the affiliated dwell in micro establishments (21.27%), this might be related to the
extremely high number of labor unions and protection contracts that researchers such as Bouzas
and De la Garza have come across.
        The most remarkable between male and female affiliation is that the highest percentage of
unionized women concentrate in small units (34.23%). Meanwhile female affiliation is highly
important in both micro and large establishments (27.41% and 27.88% respectively) compared to
the disparity of male affiliation (40.04% vs 16.77% in large and micro establishments respectively).


                                                   5
         Finally, regarding EAP, it is relevant to point out that practically all of the unionized population
classify as non-agricultural workers or employees (99.7% according to 2000 data), and almost
100% of the unionized workers surveyed by ENIGH declared they had signed a contract for a
permanent job post (“base” in spanish). This last fact, of course, reflects not so much the reality of
labor agreements in Mexico, but that for most affiliated workers their contract shcemes are rather
unknown.
Table XIV.6. Total Affiliation by Size of Establishment (percentages)
Size of Establishment        1996                 1998               2000
Large                        30.95                28.38              34.89
Medium                       12.58                13.27              10.79
Small                        35.54                36.00              33.05
Micro                        20.93                22.24              21.27
Total                        100.00               100.00             100.00
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1994, 1996,
1998 and 2000.

Unionized Population of the Industrial Sector

What characterizes those union affiliated workers amid industrial activities? We will briefly describe
those variables we have chosen as relevant in order to profile them.
         The latest data (for 1998) reveals that according to geographic location (table XIV.7.), the
highest concentration of unionized workers in industrial activities stands in the northeastern zone
(23.8% of the total national), which also presents the highest unionization rate among UPIS (31.2)6
(table XIV.8.). Although the capital zone concentrates an equally important segment of unionization
(23.2%), the union affiliation rate is nevertheless lower (14.3%). On the other extreme, the lower
concentrations and unionization rates are located in the more agricultural and indigenous states.
Only 0.8% of the unionized workers are in the peninsular zone (with a rate of 6%), whereas in the
South Pacific zone only 1.3% are unionized, the lowest affiliation rate in Mexico ( an affiliation rate
of 4.7%) with no women are reported within such region. In an intermediate level, the situation in
the central zone is quite similar. The northern region must be seen in the light of particular elements
related to the maquila-linked type of industrial expansion under course. In this sense, the situation
is far from homogeneous particularly when we compare the large northern regions: Whereas the
northwest only accounts for 3.2% of the national unionization (at a 5.7 rate), the north accounts for
9.9% (a 13.3% affiliation rate), and as has been noted, the northeast accounts for 23.8% (with
31.2% affiliated).

Table XIV.7. Unionized Population of the Industrial Sector by Region (percentages)
Regions                 1992                       1996                     2000
                Men     Women Total Men            Women Total Men          Women                       Total
Northwest       3.3     2.7      3.2     8.2       4.7     7.1    3.7       1.8                         3.2
North           4.6     16.9     6.6     12.6      21.0    15.1   9.2       12.0                        9.99
Northeast       15.5    27.1     17.4    17.1      21.6    18.4   20.1      35.5                        23.8
Central North   7.2     3.8      6.6     12.1      9.2     11.2   9.3       15.9                        10.9
West            8.4     13.9     9.3     8.0       7.8     8.0    10.5      9.8                         10.4
Central Zone    6.9     4.6      6.6     15.9      11.5    14.6   10.1      10.7                        10.2
Central Gulf    21.4    0.3      18.0    8.4       7.5     8.1    7.7       1.7                         6.3
South Pacific   0.7     0.0      0.6     2.3       2.3     2.3    1.7       0.0                         1.3
Peninsular      1.7     0.0      1.5     1.3       0.7     1.1    0.9       0.6                         0.8
Capital Zone    30.2    30.7     30.3    14.1      13.8    14.0   26.8      11.9                        23.2
Total           100.0   100.0 100.0 100.0          100.0 100.0 100.0        100.0                       100.0
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.



6
  For a definition of UPIS see foonote 4. The reader must be aware of the differences between the percentual distribution of
the total numbers of affiliated workers, and the rate of unionization within the regional UPIS.



                                                             6
Table XIV.8. Unionization Rate of the Potentially Unionizable Industrial Population by Region
Region                   1992                      1996                     2000
                Men      Women Total Men           Women Total Men          Women Total
Northwest       12.7     6.7     11.3    10.6      9.5     10.4    7.4      2.4      5.7
North           17.2     26.4    20.1    14.6      32.4    19.0    13.4     12.9     13.3
Northeast       40.5     49.5    42.4    23.6      37.2    27.2    29.2     35.4     31.2
Central North   12.7     6.3     11.6    12.6      13.9    12.9    12.9     14.7     13.0
West            17.3     26.0    18.8    9.0       11.3    9.6     12.9     11.6     12.5
Central Zone    18.0     8.6     16.0    22.8      22.1    22.7    19.8     16.0     18.7
Central Gulf    40.1     2.0     38.2    20.5      20.0    20.4    20.1     12.8     19.3
South Pacific   3.3      0.0     3.0     5.5       12.8    6.6     5.8      0.0      4.7
Peninsular      13.1     0.0     10.9    5.3       6.6     5.5     6.7      4.1      6.0
Capital Zone    25.9     20.8    24.9    11.3      13.0    11.7    16.5     7.4      14.3
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

        Throughout the past decade, geographic location has shown important changes that do not
follow a single trend. Whereas some zones presented important relative and absolute drops in
unionization (central gulf, capital zones), others strongly experienced the opposite, such as the
northeastern, central north and central zones; while other regions remained almost invariant. The
greatest absolute loss took place in the capital zone (157,343 unionized workers lost their jobs)
between 1992 and the year 2000.

Table XIV.9. Affiliated workers in the Industrial Sector by Establishment Size (%)
Establishment             1992                       1996                    2000
Size             Men      Women Total Men            Women Total Men         Women   Total
Micro            13.8     4.9       12.3   7.4       5.2     6.8     6.6     1.5     5.4
Small            23.2     14.5      21.8   22.4      27.1    23.7    19.1    15.1    18.1
Medium           25.4     26.7      25.6   14.6      20.5    16.3    11.9    8.4     11.1
Large            37.7     54.0      40.3   55.6      47.3    53.2    62.4    75.0    65.4
Total            100.0    100.0 100.0 100.0          100.0 100.0 100.0       100.0   100.0
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

          According to the size of working establishments (tables XIV.9. and XIV.10.), one observes
an important correlation between size, the distribution of the unionized population in percentages
and the unionization rate of the UPIS: the larger the establishment, the larger the unionization. So,
following the latest data (year 2000), large establishments concentrate 65% of the total national
affiliation (with an affiliation rate of 38.6%) and micro establishments only group 5.4% (a rate of
6.6%). If we compare 1992 with the year 2000, we observe an important redistribution of unionized
staff toward the large-scale industry away from all the other strata. Whereas unionized workers in
large establishments increased by slightly over 200,000, in medium-sized establishments they
decreased by almost 234,000, almost 114,000 in micro establishments and in small establishments
by slightly under 96,000. However, despite absolute growth in large establishments, the
unionization (or affiliation) rate decreased from 51.1% in 1992 to 38.6% in the year 2000 (from 20.5
to 11.3 in small establishments and from 33.2 to 19 in medium-sized establishments), whereas in
micro establishments the rate remained practically the same. The lowest unionization rate at the
end of the nineties (0.7%) was among women in micro businesses; the highest (37.6%) was among
men in large companies.




                                                 7
Table XIV.10. Unionization Rate among Potentially Unionizable Industrial Population
by Establishment Size
Establishment            1992                    1996                       2000
Size           Men       Women Total Men         Women Total Men            Women Total
Micro          13.8      4.9     12.3    7.4     5.2      6.8     6.6       1.5    5.4
Small          23.2      14.5    21.8    22.4    27.1     23.7    19.1      15.1   18.1
Medium         25.4      26.7    25.6    14.6    20.5     16.3    11.9      8.4    11.1
Large          37.7      54.0    40.3    55.6    47.3     53.2    62.4      75.0   65.4
Total          100.0     100.0 100.0 100.0       100.0 100.0 100.0          100.0 100.0
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

Table XIV.11. Unionizable Population in the Industrial Sector by Type of Occupation (percentages)
Occupation                             1992                   1996                  2000
                                 Men Women Total Men          Women Total Men       Women Total
Professionals                    0.2   2.0     0.5    0.5     1.1     0.7     0.0   1.1     0.3
Technicians                      3.0   2.8     2.9    5.2     1.2     4.1     5.6   0.8     4.4
Public and Private Officials and 1.1   1.4     1.1    0.5     1.0     0.7     1.3   0.0     1.0
Directors
Bosses, Supervisors and/or 4.2         5.7     4.4    3.6     4.3     3.8     10.0  8.4     9.6
Control Workers
Arts, Factory Workers in the 24.5 18.0         23.5 19.6      6.7     16.0    21.1  18.2    20.4
Transformation Industry
Fixed Machinery and Industrial 25.3 45.2       28.5 31.9      59.8    39.7    35.0  56.5    40.2
Equipment Operators
Assistants, Builders, Artisans 18.0 12.3       17.1 15.0      6.7     12.7    10.7  9.6     10.5
and Industrial Workers
Mobile      Machinery        and 7.4   0.0     6.3    7.5     0.0     5.4     8.3   0.0     6.3
Transport      Drivers       and
Assistants
Heads       of      Department 2.1     1.4     2.0    2.0     1.8     2.0     1.0   3.0     1.5
Coord/Superv                  in
Administration Services
Workers             Supporting 6.9     10.6    7.5    5.8     16.0    8.7     3.1   0.9     2.6
Administration Services
Merchants,      Clerks       and 2.7   0.0     2.3    3.7     1.4     3.0     0.5   0.4     0.5
Salespersons
Personal Service Workers in 2.5        0.8     2.3    1.9     0.1     1.4     1.2   1.1     1.2
Establishments
Security Workers and Armed 2.0         0.0     1.7    2.6     0.0     1.9     2.4   0.0     1.8
Forces
Total                            100.0 100.0   100.0 100.0 100.0      100.0 100.0 100.0     100.0
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.




                                                8
Table XIV.12. Affiliation Rate among the Potentially Unionizable Industrial Population by Occupation
Occupation                              1992                     1996                      2000
                                 Men Women Total Men Women Total Men Women Total
Professionals                    4.7    19.3     8.7     4.3     11.8      6.0             15.2    3.4
Technicians                      25.5 16.0       23.4    24.1 8.0          20.6    24.2 8.0        22.2
Education Workers                0.0    36.0     22.0    24.8 0.0          15.4    0.0     0.0     0.0
Public and Private Officials and 10.5 11.3       10.6    3.4     31.6      5.4     10.7 0.0        9.6
Directors
Bosses, Supervisors and/or 17.6 17.5             17.5    8.8     14.0      9.9     19.6 16.7       18.9
Control Workers
Arts,     Workers      in    the 15.8 15.7       15.8    10.6 6.3          9.8     12.0 7.9        10.8
Transformation Industry
Fixed Machinery and Industrial 53.7 38.9         49.0    32.7 30.6         31.8    35.1 28.1       32.3
Equipment Operators
Assistants, Builders, Artisans 17.4 22.6         17.9    8.1     14.2      8.7     6.5     15.7    7.5
and Industrial Workers

Mobile       Machinery       and 32.1 0.0     32.1   27.2 0.0          27.2   27.6      0.0       27.6
Transport Drivers and Assistants
Heads       of      Department 25.1 37.2      26.0   13.5 12.4         13.2   8.4       14.4      10.5
Coord/Superv in Administration
Services
Workers              Supporting 41.6 12.6     27.4   24.9 25.0         24.9   17.1      1.3       8.5
Administration Services
Merchants,      Clerks       and 21.5         13.2   13.9 2.7          9.1    2.2       0.8       1.6
Salespersons
Personal Service Workers in 42.7 4.7          28.9   19.2 1.5          15.5   11.8      7.6       10.5
Establishments
Security Workers and Armed 23.6 0.0           23.6   23.6 0.0          22.7   28.4      0.0       28.4
Forces
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

         Unionized staff showed higher levels among “fixed machinery and industrial equipment
operators” (40% of the total), “artisans and factory workers in the transformation industry” (20.4% of
the total) and “assistants, builders, artisans and industrial workers” (10.5%). In the three cases, it
should be noted that unionization rates (table XIV.12.) experienced considerable decreases
between 1992 and 2000: from 49% to 32.3% in the first case, from 15.8% to 10.8% in the second
and from 17.9% to 7.5% in the third case. It is interesting to note that the classification “bosses,
supervisors and/or control workers in artisan and industrial manufacturing” increased its
participation between 1992 and the year 2000 both in absolute (over 52,000 workers) and relative
terms (growing from 4.4% to 9.6%, a rate increase from 17.5% to 18.9%).

        By classifying the distribution of unionized workers along five-year age groups (table
XIV.13.) it is easy to see that the greatest concentrations are located between the age of 17 and 36
(65.2% of the total, in the year 2000) both in the case of women (77.8%) and men (61.3%).
Individually, the group aged between 27 and 31 has the greatest weight (20.7% in the total, 21.9%
for women and 20.3% for men). Conversely, only 25.3% of the total is located in the age group from
37 to 51 (27% men and 23.4% women). In other words, it is a young labor force that has only
recently joined industry. This concentration in the younger groups was even more pronounced in
the early nineties when they occupied 68% of the total (66% men and 77.8% women). In 1992,
54.1% of these women were between 17 and 26 years old.




                                                   9
Table XIV.13. Unionized Population of the Industrial Sector by Age Groups
(percentages)
Age Groups            1992                           1996                             2000
            Men       Women Total         Men        Women Total        Men           Women      Total
14-16       0.7       6.0       1.6       0.4        6.8       2.2      0.3           2.6        0.8
17-21       17.1      33.7      19.8      10.5       24.8      14.5     11.4          16.5       12.6
22-26       17.3      20.4      17.8      20.0       24.3      21.2     16.8          19.8       17.5
27-31       19.3      11.5      18.1      18.7       15.6      17.8     20.3          21.9       20.7
32-36       12.3      12.2      12.3      14.3       10.1      13.1     12.8          19.6       14.4
37-41       14.4      7.5       13.3      10.8       11.1      10.9     10.0          6.1        9.1
42-46       10.7      6.1       10.0      10.0       3.7       8.2      8.6           10.5       9.1
47-51       3.9       1.0       3.4       7.2        0.8       5.4      8.4           2.9        7.1
52-56       3.1       0.9       2.8       4.9        2.9       4.3      6.3           0.0        4.8
57-61       0.7       0.7       0.7       2.1        0.0       1.5      2.0           0.0        1.5
62-66       0.4       0.0       0.3       1.1        0.0       0.8      2.9           0.0        2.2
67-71       0.0       0.0       0.0       0.1        0.0       0.1      0.0           0.0        0.0
Total       100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0      100.0     100.0    100.0         100.0      100.0
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

Table XIV.14. Unionization Rate of the Potentially Unionizable Industrial Population by Age Groups
Age Groups            1992                           1996                          2000
            Men       Women Total         Men        Women Total          Men      Women Total
14-16       5.2       16.1      9.0       1.9        23.0      9.8        1.2      6.9      3.3
17-21       21.6      22.8      21.9      10.7       17.0      13.0       12.1     10.3     11.5
22-26       22.1      16.5      20.8      14.6       19.5      15.9       13.7     14.5     13.9
27-31       26.8      19.3      25.4      15.5       18.3      16.1       19.5     16.7     18.7
32-36       20.3      25.9      21.0      14.3       15.7      14.6       14.9     19.7     16.2
37-41       29.1      15.8      27.0      14.2       27.3      16.4       14.0     8.8      12.8
42-46       32.8      24.2      31.7      19.8       13.6      18.8       16.9     24.3     18.4
47-51       19.4      9.7       18.5      23.4       5.4       20.5       23.7     7.9      19.7
52-56       17.8      12.9      17.5      20.8       24.0      21.4       30.0     0.0      26.6
57-61       10.8      12.4      11.0      17.7       0.0       14.3       46.5     0.0      12.5
62-66       6.4       0.0       6.1       13.4       0.0       11.1       26.0     0.0      24.4
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENIGH data for 1992, 1996, and 2000.

         With regard to the unionization rates of the different age groups of the UPIS (table XIV.14.), it
can be observed that in all the groups from the ages of 16 to 46 there was a drop in the unionization
rates between 1992 and the year 2000, corresponding to absolute decreases in employment. The
decreases in the groups aged between 17 and 21 (from 21.9 to 11.5), between 37 and 41 (from 27
to 12.8) and between 42 and 46 (from 31.7 to 18.4) were particularly high.

LABOR REGULATION IN THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR
Labor regulation according to type of activity

In this section we make a pragmatic use of the labor regulation rate notion which, in spite of its
limitations, we think it valid in view of the need to develop our ideas based on the empirical
information that is available, that is, the ENESTyC. We shall thus understand the labor regulation rate
as the proportion of establishments with regard to the total surveyed in which core aspects of labor
relations are coded —either bilaterally or not— through formal instruments such as collective
bargaining agreements, internal work regulations or through special agreements with this particular
goal in mind.
         For our analysis, we have grouped together different aspects (nine in total) of labor
regulation inasmuch as they are directly linked to the organization of work (table XIV.15.),


                                                   10
contracting (table XIV.16.) and determining staff functions and promotion (table XIV.17.). The first
item is concerned with the formal agreement to carry out technological changes, introduce and
apply new forms of work organization and make temporary rotation possible (horizontal rotation,
ascendant and descendent vertical rotation). With regard to contracting, we shall take into account
the regulation of outsourced work, temporary hiring and the scope and limitations to generate white
collar jobs. Lastly, in table XIV.17. we jointly present two intimately related themes: the formal
definition of labor classifications and their corresponding functions, on the one hand, and the
determination of criteria for staff promotion, on the other.

Table XIV.15. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Branch of
Activity According to the Organization of Work (percentages)
                                              Aspects Related to Labor Relations
                                  Changes in the          Staff                  Introduction to New
                                  Organization of         Turnover               Technologies
                                  Work
Activity                          1995        1999        1995        1999       1995        1999
Foodstuffs, Beverages and
Tobacco                           8.9         2.35        11.8        4.47       3.5         1.50
Textiles, Garments, Clothing and
Leather Industries                7.6         5.78        14.0        3.35       7.8         2.19
Wood Industry and Wood
Products                          3.8         3.46        4.4         4.71       7.0         2.33
Paper and Paper Products,
Printing and Publications         12.8        5.5         9.5         4.71       16.6        7.73
Chemicals, Coal, Rubber
Plastic-Derived Products          28.7        12.29       22.7        16.58      21.4        9.34
Mineral Non-Metallic Products     1.7         1.83        6.0         2.31       1.5         1.41
Basic Metallic Industries         28.2        7.64        31.6        12.36      28.0        9.21
Metallic Products, Machinery
and Equipment                     11.9        4.19        8.2         4.0        8.6         5.19
Other Manufacturing Industries    1.6         3.45        10.7        2.31       2.0         2.83
Total                             8.6         3.74        10.1        4.19       6.5         2.99
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.
          As we can see from these tables, there was an all-around drop in all the components of the
labor regulation rate throughout the period from 1995 to 1999. If we stop to consider the total values
of the nine aspects we have referred to, the drop turns out to be close to 50% in almost all items.
This drop, however, is more pronounced in three items: temporary staff rotation (from 10.1 to 4.2),
formal determination of labor classifications and their corresponding functions (from 18.0 to 7.2),
and the use of outsourced labor (from 4.3 to 1.6). The way the paper, printing and publishing
industry experienced outsourcing is surprising, being a sub sector with a low regulation rate in 1995
(8.0), it had abruptly decreased by 1999 when only 1.05% of these establishments had any kind of
formal regulation to negotiate outsourcing activities.




                                                 11
Table XIV.16. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Branch of
Activity, According to Contract-Related Aspects (percentages)
                                              Labor-Related Aspects
                                  Use of Outsourced      Contracting        Creation of White
                                  Work                   Temporary Staff    Collar Jobs
Activity                          1995        1999       1995        1999   1995        1999
Foodstuffs, Beverages and
Tobacco                           2.0         0.95       11.5        6.23   7.5         2.48
Textiles, Garments, Clothing and
Leather Industries                15.2        2.0        14.9        6.22   5.5         3.24
Wood Industry and Wood
Products                          2.0         0.28       9.2         5.66   2.2         1.87
Paper and Paper Products,
Printing and Publications         8.0         1.05       11.5        7.53   10.2        4.32
Chemicals, Coal, Rubber
Plastic-Derived Products          10.7        3.06       35.2        23.75  21.7        13.79
Mineral Non-Metallic Products     2.5         0.49       8.9         3.77   1.3         0.66
Basic Metallic Industries         16.5        7.19       53.9        24.72  25.3        9.44
Metallic Products, Machinery
and Equipment                     8.6         4.05       1.7         10.19  7.1         4.59
Other Manufacturing Industries    1.1         1.5        13.2        5.05   2.1         3.53
Total                             4.3         1.6        13.1        7.23   6.8         3.18
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.

           In this sense, one of the characteristics of the bargaining agreement model widely
disseminated in the Mexican manufacturing sector indicates that the primary goal of the formal
specification of these three items is to limit the indiscriminate use of the labor force in productive
processes and hiring staff through third parties that without belonging to the establishment can
perform activities inside or outside. The accelerated decrease of the labor regulation rate in these
three aspects speaks of a drive that favors a greater business capacity to outsource activities, such
as cleaning services, security, maintenance, etc.; it also points out that multi-skilled work is being
encouraged unilaterally without needing to reach “a pre-agreement among the parties involved” as
it used to be in our labor relations model; a clear definition of labor classifications and the tasks and
functions associated with them are a third major mark of the present drive in labor regulation.
           Let us closely observe the particular dynamics of different manufacturing activities among
which there are some specificities to be referred. In the first place, when considering all surveyed
units, the formal regulation of temporary rotation has gradually been eliminated, particularly in the
food, beverages and tobacco industries (from 11.8% to 4.5% in the period), in the textile and
garment industries (from 14.0% to 3.35%) and in the basic metallic industries (where the regulation
rate fell from 31.6 to 12.4, thus representing a loss above 60%). Basic metallic industries is where
the greatest reduction in the regulation rate took place: changes in work organization (from 28.2%
to 7.6%), introduction of new technologies (from 28.0% to 9.2%), creation of white-collar jobs (from
25.3% to 9.4%) and in the development of criteria for staff promotion (from 60.4% to 26.1%). From
1995 to 1999, the whole of the basic metallic industries experienced an intense process of
deregulating core aspects for the development of work processes and the management of the
productive order.
           Metal, machinery and equipment production , which is mostly constituted by large and
medium-sized establishments (almost 70%), embarked on labor deregulation, particularly
concentrating on three aspects: the implementation of changes in work organization, accompanied
by the lack of a definition of the functions of labor classifications and the criteria for staff promotion.
It is likely that these elements are indicative of what some authors have called wild flexibilization or
unilateral flexibility, which has been developed in vast sectors of the Mexican productive apparatus.
           To sum up, between 1995 and 1999, the manufacturing industry as a whole developed an
intense process of deregulating labor issues, which nevertheless concentrated on the items that
facilitate a discretional use of the labor force in the course of productive activities (on the “factory
floor”) and in hiring and outsourcing.


                                                    12
Table XIV.17. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Branch of
Activity, According to Staff Functions and Promotion (percentages)
                                                                   Aspects of Labor Relations
                                                    Labor                        Staff Promotion
                                                    Classification Functions
Activity                                            1995           1999          1995          1999
Foodstuffs, Beverages and Tobacco                   14.6           5.25          8.7           3.17
Textiles, Garments, Clothing and Leather            19.3           7.81          12.7          6.89
Wood Industry and Wood Products                     8.9            2.97          4.4           3.95
Paper and Paper Products, Printing and Publications 23.7           13.92         12.6          11.22
Chemicals, Coal, Rubber, Plastic-Derived Products 52.9             29.64         37.5          24.33
Mineral Non-Metallic Products                       13.5           4.99          4.6           1.79
Basic Metallic Industries                           68.9           39.78         60.4          26.07
Metallic Products, Machinery and Equipment          25.5           9.03          13.8          5.38
Other Manufacturing Industries                      13.0           6.42          22.5          3.89
Total                                               18.0           7.23          10.5          5.17
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.

Labor Regulation According to Establishment Size

We can consider other factors when regarding the evolution of the labor regulation rate according to
establishment size, these factors or items should allow a comparison with the previous section
since the comparison criteria were maintained between 1995 and 1999. The additional items are:
quality and/or productivity regulation, staff selection, and formal stipulation of criteria for staff
cutbacks (lay offs).
A global analysis of tables XIV.18., XIV.19. and XIV.20. that highlight information according to
establishment size shows that the total amounts of the regulation rates experienced a drop similar
to that mentioned in the previous section, i.e., close to 50%. This decrease, however, is less
pronounced in the large establishments, both considering the blocks related to regulating work
organization (table XIV.18.), contracting (table XIV.19.) and the definition of labor classifications and
staff promotion (table XIV.20.). Furthermore, the regulation rate in the large establishments
remained similar in specific items, such as determining quality and/or productivity (that went from
68.6% to 53.7%), hiring temporary staff (from 74.8% to 64.6%), appropiate definition of the
functions of labor classifications (from 78.1% to 74.08%) and the formal establishment of criteria for
staff promotion (from 76.8% to 61.5%). In this respect, there certainly was a drop in the regulation
rate, but considering the total amounts of regulation during this period it was hardly of relevance.
The greater probability of labor union presence in this stratum might explain the less intense
decrease in the regulation rate.

Table XIV.18. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Size, According
to Aspects of Labor Organization (percentages)
Aspects of Labor Relations
         Changes in Labor Temporary Staff Introduction         Quality and/or
         Organization      Turnover          of           New Productivity
                                             Technologies
Size     1995     1999     1995     1999     1995     1999     1995     1999
Large    45.7     27.14    51.6     28.19    38.7     24.59    68.6      53.65
Medium 37.3       21.70    41.9     22.18    30.5     19.54    61.5     42.69
Small    25.3     14.76    25.6     17.82    20.6     12.37    45.7     35.14
Micro    6.9      2.58     8.3      2.8      5.0      1.97     16.8     6.00
Total    8.6      3.74     10.1     4.19     6.5      2.99     19.4     8.61
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.




                                                   13
Table XIV.19. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Size, According
to Contracting Aspects (percentages),
                                                Aspects of Labor Relations
            Staff Selection  Use             of Contracting      Staff Cutback  Creation       of
                             Outsourced Labor Temporary Staff                   White      Collar
                                                                                Jobs
  Size      1995      1999   1995      1999     1995     1999    1995     1999  1995     1999
  Large     69.1      55.83  25.0      16.84    74.8     64.59   46.0     28.42 41.1     26.19
  Medium 63.1         43.88  17.7      9.80     67.7     52.55   40.5     19.33 34.1     22.75
  Small     43.5      29.02  11.0      4.91     45.7     25.6    30.8     10.31 26.1     16.14
  Micro     9.7       3.63   3.5       1.16     9.8      4.9     39.3     1.3   89.8     4.97
  Total     12.8      6.0    34.3      1.61     13.1     7.23    11.3     2.31  6.8      3.18
  SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.

         In the case of medium-sized establishments, the decrease in labor regulation is located
approximately at the middle of the studied period, except for some items in which the decrease is
less accentuated, such as determining quality or productivity (that went from 61.5 to 42.7), staff
selection (from 63.1 to 43.9), hiring temporary workers (from 67.7 to 52.6), the creation of white
collar jobs (from 34.1 to 22.8) and the determination of labor classifications and their functions (that
did not decrease that much since it only went down from 73.1 to 64.7). In other words, this stratum
did not go through a substantial loss in the global labor regulation rate, although the item “use of
outsourced labor” (that dropped from 17.7 to 9.8) and “staff cutbacks” (from 40.5 to 19.3) escaped
from this general trend for the middle-sized establishments.
         The drastic drop cambe about among the small and micro establishments for almost all the
labor regulation components. It is in this ground where conditions of work became much more
precarious from 1995 to 1999 in spite of the fact that by the mid-nineties labor regulation was
already quite limited. We shall just mention the following estimates as examples: the items that
decreased most in small establishments were again related to outsourcing (from 11.0 to 4.91) and
staff cutbacks (from 30.8 to 10.3); micro establishments experienced a deep deterioration of labor
regulation in all its components, but more markedly in outsourced labor (from 3.5 to 1.16), staff
cutbacks (from 9.3 to 1.3), determining quality and/or productivity (from 16.8 to 6.0) and in formal
specification of labor classifications and their functions (that decreased from 14.3 to 3.98). The
seriousness of this tendency is amplified if we also consider that it is precisely in this type of
establishment that this tendency concentrates.

Table XIV.20. Labor Regulation Average Rate in Manufacturing Establishments by Size,
According to Staff Functions and Promotion (percentages)
Aspects of Labor Relations
                                 Labor                    Staff Promotion
                                 Classification Functions
Size                             1995          1999       1995         1999
Large                            78.1          74.08      76.8         61.46
Medium                           73.1          64.69      68.3         51.56
Small                            55.4          36.56      43.0         27.23
Micro                            14.3          3.98       7.1          5.64
Total                            18.0          7.23       10.5         5.17
SOURCE: The author’s own estimates based on ENESTyC data for 1995 and 1999.
         So far we can conclude that during the second half of the nineties, the manufacturing sector
intensified the de-regulation of labor relations, particularly in smaller establishments. This de-
regulation was accentuated in specific themes such as those related to employers’ unilateral
decision-making power in terms of hiring and firing, as well as the dissemination of outsourcing and
the lack of a formal definition of labor classifications and their functions in the productive processes.
In short, we mentioned that the decrease in the labor regulation rate runs parallel to the


                                                   14
deterioration of the labor unions’ capacity to reach formal agreements —with a certain degree of
bilaterality— in determining hiring conditions, work organization and the management of the labor
force within productive processes.

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
Upon reviewing what has happened with labor in Mexico in recent years among the two dimensions
with which this paper deals we gather some elements that push forward the case for labor
precariousness.
         First, we know there is a trend towards a contraction of unionism and its spaces of action.
This is accompanied by a greater relative presence of unionization in services, unevennes in the
regional redistribution of union affiliation, an aging of the unionized population, increasing
participation of female workers among unionized workers as a whole, and finally, the presence of
extremely low unionization rates in the employment stratum that has grown most in the recent past:
micro establishments.
         The large presence of unionism in the service sector is not really a novelty as such;
traditionally, the weight of labor unions such as SNTE, SNTSS and in general the FSTSE members has
dominated the Mexican labor union panorama. However, it should be noted that the relative weight
of the workers of the service sector in the whole of the national unionization has increased as a
consequence of two parallel processes: first, the loss of jobs in some branches and sectors that
traditionally had high unionization indexes: the sectors linked to the prostate sector (oil, railways,
petrochemicals, mining and metallurgy, etc.); second, the existence of enough evidence to be able
to state that employment’s relative recovery in the second half of the nineties has primarily
developed in economic activities linked to micro businesses and self-employment, spaces in which
labor union organizations do not have an important presence. This dynamic of unionization has run
parallel to a deep de-regulation process of the labor relations. When we speak of de-regulation, we
are referring to the disappearance of formal agreements (collective bargaining agreements, specific
internal work regulations or agreements) which define in writing the scope and limits for hiring, the
use of the labor force and the organization of the productive process. From this analysis we can
conclude that de-regulation increased by approximately 100% from 1995 to 1999.
         In addition, the information available indicates that de-regulation in its different components
primarily concentrates in small, medium-sized and micro companies. The situation of the large
establishments does not reveal a reduction in regulation similar to what happened in nationally. It is
likely that this situation obeys to the presence of labor union bodies in establishments that employ
more than 250 workers, in spite of its having decreased.
         To understand this labor dynamic we must consider, at least briefly, the effect of three
macro social factors: first, the changes in the sociodemographic profile, one of the consequences of
which is reflected in the composition of the labor market; second, the intermittent presence of
macroeconomic disadjustments in Mexico, particularly the economic crisis initiated at the end of
1994 which had repercussions on the supply and quality of employment; and third, the deepening
throughout the nineties of a development model that some authors call neoliberal,7 with important
characteristics such as the increasing importance of international markets, the new criteria for the
location of economic activities and the employers’ drive towards increasingly more precarious and
unilateral conditions of work. From the information we have presented here we can draw the
preliminary conclusion that out of these three factors, the factor regarding the development model
has a greater incidence on unionization dynamics and on the labor regulation pattern. To sum up,
there is a consistent relationship between the development model, the absolute and relative
decrease in the unionized population and the deterioration of the capacity labor union organizations
have for a bilateral regulation of the conditions of work.




7
    Enrique de la Garza, La formación socioeconómica neoliberal, Mexico, Plaza y Valdés, 2001.



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