MSN has been working with international apparel brands and trade union and labour rights organizations to tackle widespread systemic barriers to workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in Mexico and the failure of Mexican government institutions to protect and enforce this fundamental right at the workplace.
One of the biggest obstacles to freedom of association for workers in Mexico is the prevalence of "employer protection contracts," simulated collective agreements signed by employers and "official" unions or corrupt lawyers, which serve to "protect" the employer from the emergence of truly representative and democratic trade unions and genuine collective bargaining to improve wages and working conditions. Protection contracts are negotiated without the knowledge and/or consent of workers and are often in place in a factory prior to the hiring of any workers. Mexican labour rights experts estimate that the vast majority of collective bargaining agreements in the country are in fact protection contracts.
MSN has engaged with apparel brands that source from Mexico to promote a positive climate for freedom of association within factories producing their goods and to challenge the use of protection contracts in their supply chains. Some of the proactive steps international companies can take include mapping the presence of protection contracts in supplier factories, promoting worker awareness of their rights to freedom of association and to bargain collectively, improving auditing to identify and address protection contracts and other obstacles to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and more.