Home Business-newBusiness Coparmex: Mexico does not have the conditions to reduce the working hours

Coparmex: Mexico does not have the conditions to reduce the working hours

by Yucatan Times
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“The business sector in Mexico claims that it is not the time to approve the working day reform”, stated José Medina Mora, national president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Mexican Republic (Coparmex).

For the private initiative, he expressed in an interview, in the current scenario it is not feasible to move forward with a change in the limit of working hours in the Constitution, neither with a transition period for its gradual implementation nor with a lower reduction than the one being analyzed in Congress.

The position of the businessmen is clear: first the productivity of the country has to be increased and regulations and administrative procedures have to be reduced, then the reduction of the working day could be discussed.

“It is not the time to reduce the working day; we have to work on increasing productivity. We are aware that part of the increase in productivity has to do with the companies, but another part has to do with the government. It is up to us to bet on innovation and train our personnel; on the government side, we have to work on reducing regulations”, said the business leader.

This Monday the Open Parliament begins in the Chamber of Deputies to analyze the reform to reduce the working week to 40 hours. “We will be there participating”, affirms José Medina Mora. The business sector will attend with the confidence that the exercise will serve to “reason that this is not the right time to do it”.

So far this year, he points out, companies have faced three important cost increases due to labor policy changes: the new minimum wage increase, the vacation reform and a higher employer contribution to pensions.

In addition to this, the business group estimates that there are between 1.2 and 1.6 million vacancies in the labor market that cannot be filled. This lack of personnel availability would be a bad combination with a reduction in working hours. “Double and triple overtime would have to be paid. This is one more reason to point out that this is not the time to make this reform.”

For now, the business sector would not propose either a transition period or a lower reduction than the one established in the ruling approved in commissions of the Chamber of Deputies in April. The IP would bet on convincing that Mexico does not have the conditions to reduce working time, at least for now.

José Medina Mora denies that the business sector is opposed to advancing in this matter, but insists: “It is not the time, it is not a rejection; it is not the time to increase costs. The risk as a country of raising costs without increasing productivity is that we may lose competitiveness and, in the context of nearshoring, the worst thing that can happen to us is to lose competitiveness”.

Even with a reform with gradual implementation, as was done in Chile and Colombia, he says, the reform would not be feasible in Mexico because those countries, before moving forward in reducing their working hours, increased their productivity.

The Coparmex president does not rule out that a growth in productivity not only opens the door to a reduction in the working day, but also to other legal changes. “We can make many labor reforms once productivity recovers”.

Conflicting positions on 40 hours

While the business sector maintains the position that Mexico is not going through a good moment to reduce the working day, from the union side they ask that the project be approved in the Congress of the Union without changes, that is to say, without a transition period.

The working day in Mexico has not been modified in a little more than 100 years. What is on the table for discussion is to reform the Constitution to establish two days of rest for every five days of work, which would translate into a cut from 48 to 40 hours per week in the legal limit.

And although 48-hour work weeks remain the general rule in most of Latin America, Colombia and Chile have recently advanced in reducing them to 42 and 40 hours, respectively, both with a gradual implementation.

In the continent, Ecuador is the pioneer and has had a 40-hour workweek since 1997. This formula has been common in most of Europe and northern Asia since 2005, according to research by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Through Recommendation 116, the organization proposes as an ideal scenario to reach a 40-hour workday. In order to do so, it suggests that economies reduce working hours gradually and with wage protection; both elements are not contemplated in the ruling pending to be discussed in the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies.

The ILO also proposes “to consider the circumstances of each country and each sector, including the level of development of the nation, the progress achieved with the implementation of technology and the need to raise the standard of living of the population.

TYT Newsroom

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