Congress recessed until September 1 without passing any of the pending reform proposals. (Universal 5/1, Reforma 5/1)
Political reform: President Calderón put forward his 10-point reform last December, followed by the PRI’s package in February, and a PRD version. All of these, plus others, languish in the legislative commissions without any consensus.
Labor reform: Labor Secretary Javier Lozano proposed a comprehensive reform in March to make labor contracting rules more flexible and making unions more transparent and democratic. It is strongly supported by the business community. May Day marches by the major labor unions across the country attacked the proposed legislation, and neither house has yet voted. (Universal 5/2)
Fiscal reform: No specific proposals have been made public, despite widespread recognition that urgent change is needed on both the spending and revenue side of the budget.
New media law: The PAN and PRD congressional delegations proposed an integrated reform in mid-April, after the PRI tried to ram through a Televisa-drafted bill. Hearings will continue over the summer. (Universal 4/28)
National Security reform: The Senate approved a law 105-1-1 clarifying the procedures and standards for deploying the military in public safety (i.e., crime fighting) operations, while punting on the question of subjecting members of the military to civilian court jurisdiction for some crimes. The law as passed is believed to be strongly opposed by at least parts of the military. The Chamber did not bring it to a vote. (Universal 4/28, 5/3)
Competition law: A watered down version of the Government’s proposed law to strengthen the Federal Competition Commission and stiffen penalties for monopolistic practices was passed by the Chamber 386-15-2; the Senate has not acted. (Excelsior 4/30)
Human Rights law: A constitutional reform strengthening constitutional protection for human rights and giving the language in the Constitution and giving the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) the power to investigate “grave violations of individual rights” passed the Senate in early April. The Chamber has not yet acted. (Universal 4/9)
The PAN put forward a comprehensive reform of the Labor Law in Congress. The measures seek to increase flexibility in the labor market through secret ballots in union elections, greater union transparency, time limits on strikes, new rules on outsourcing, ability to contract workers by the hour, and greater protection for women workers, among others. Josefina Vázquez Mota, the PAN congressional leader, said the bill was a collaboration between the party and the Labor Ministry, headed by Javier Lozano. President Calderón emphasized that the bill would not amend the many specific labor rights enshrined in Article 123 of the Constitution. (Reforma 3/18, 3/19, 3/20)
Efforts by the PRD and PT in Congress to challenge the liquidation of Luz y Fuerza on constitutional grounds fell well short. Only 132 Deputies of the required 250 signed the resolution, as the PRI stood aside. If the resolution had passed, it would have obliged the Supreme Court to review the liquidation decree. After the motion failed, Labor Secretary Javier Lozano promptly reopened the centers for former employees to sign up for the buyout payments. The second round of buyouts will provide only 70% of the amount that was available in the first round, and will be available until December 23. (Universal 11/25, 11/26)
Labor Secretary Javier Lozano announced that more than 22,000 Luz y Fuerza workers—about half the total—have accepted the government’s buyout offer, at a cost of Ps. 12 billion. The buyout offer expires November 14. A judge granted the SME union an injunction to prevent declaring the labor contract between the SME and Luz y Fuerza terminated, but Lozano said the action was a technicality that would not stop the process from moving forward. CFE, the other national electric utility, will start re-hiring Luz y Fuerza’s workers this week under its own labor agreement. Some 9,500 workers have asked to be rehired by CFE or get government assistance in setting up their own businesses. (Reforma 11/8)
The unionized workers of Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LFC), the state owned electrical utility ordered liquidated by President Calderón, mobilized an estimated 150,000 protestors in the Zocalo in a peaceful demonstration to demand a reversal of the decree. The government agreed to negotiations, headed by Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont, but made clear that reversing the liquidation was not a option: “The Ministry of Government will establish a dialogue table in the ministry offices to explore alternatives for the reinsertion of workers in the work force, as well as to give strict adherence to the rights of workers,” an official announcement said. Secretary of Labor Javier Lozano and Secretary of Economy Gerardo Ruiz said the government would allot Ps. 500 million for worker retraining, educational grants, and other assistance, in addition to the Ps. 20 billion in labor indemnities already announced. In the first three days since the buyout was announced, 2,527 of the 44,000 LFC workers accepted the government’s offer. (Reforma 10/16)
Finance Secretary Agustín Carstens and Labor Secretary Javier Lozano announced that the government would offer redundant LFC workers up to Ps. 20 billion in indemnities, about 25% more than the law requires. (LFC’s annual deficit, which is covered by the government, is more than Ps. 40 billion.) The average worker would get a payment equal to 2-1/2 years’ salary and benefits. Workers have one month to decide if they will accept the government’s offer. Carstens estimated that about 10,000 of LFC’s 43,000 active workers could be re-contracted to work at the new company. The 20,000 retirees will continue to receive their current pensions. (Reforma 10/12)