Mexico and the maquiladoras

…. and unions
The maquiladoras in Mexico are characterized by abysmal working and environmental conditions, severe repression of any form of democratic trade unionism, and overt and successful collusion between foreign companies, local authorities, and corrupt trade unions. The latter explain the specific character of workers’ situation in the Mexican version of Free Trade Zones: while on the one hand there exist a minority of democratic trade unions, principally in the public sector, in the traditional industrial heartland in the centre of the country, the majority of workers are formally represented by “charro” (yellow) trade unions, which in many cases have “protection contracts” with the employer: the employer pays a local union crony for representing the workers and keeping any real union out of the door – the workers in most cases don’t even know who represents them. These unions do not effectively defend or represent the interests of the workers; instead, there exists collusion between employer, official trade union and political and juridical authorities to keep the workers in a position of extreme exploitation and repression. This reality is particularly present in the maquiladora sector.

The only organizations that are defending the interests of the mostly female maquiladora workers, suffering from the most miserable working and living conditions, are grassroots organizations, many of whom are very active and fulfil many tasks trade unions would normally fulfil. In spite of their hard work and commitment, there has been little breakthrough in the united “charro” front made up by employers, the official unions and CROC, and the political authorities. The former Fox government, in spite of its promises to introduce freedom of association in Mexico, has allied forces with these corrupt unions that were associated with the previous ruling party, the PRI. Various efforts to establish an independent union at maquiladora plants have been met with intimidation, violence, and even murder of union activists, election fraud, legal tricks, etc, even in the presence of foreign union observers from the United States and Canada.


Women in Senegal

Worker centres

Introduction to ExChains

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Who is involved in ExChains?

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Globalisation: cheap labour, cheap products
...and women workers

Mexico and the maquiladoras

...and unions

Sri Lanka and the Free Trade Zones

...and workers

Bangladesh and the Free Trade Zones
...and unions

Turkey and the garment industry


Workers in Bangladesh

Workers in Bangladesh