By RICARDO CASTILLO
It seemed like two years ago, back in December 2018, that then-new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) had partially paved the rocky road that would lead to minimum wage hikes for 2019. At that time, AMLO managed to achieve a tripartite agreement among business organizations, unions and the new Labor Secretariat consensus regarding the hike.
Those happy days lingered on until this past month, when Mexico’s National Commission for Minimum Wages (Conasami), decided on a 15 percent wage hike for 2021 for all minimum wage earners. All hell broke loose and formerly in-agreement organizations such as the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex), the Business Coordination Council (CCE) and other industrial organizations rejected the increase.
Coparmex, which under the presidency Gustavo de Hoyos has become the most vocal anti-AMLO organization, issued a formal protest:
“With the vote of the representatives of all business organizations against, the Conasami decreed a global increase equivalent to 15 percent. With this imposition, millions of microbusinesses are forced to carry the burden of the increase, which combined with the covid 19 contagion and ensuing closing of more enterprises, make the bankruptcy of thousands of businesses imminent and will lead to a loss of hiring sources.”
The CCE did not stay mum either: “We reiterate the position of the entrepreneurial sector in the sense that, under current circumstances, and for already stated reasons, the increase … should be 10 percent.”
In any case, the Conasami had a Christmas present for the CCE and Coparmex since on Dec. 23 the federal government’s Official Gazette formally declared the 15 percent increase on minimum wages for 2021, going up from 123.22 pesos a day to 141.70 pesos a day for most of the nation ,while at the Northern Border Free Trade Zone (maquiladora industry area) saw a rise from 185.56 pesos a day to 213.39 pesos a day.
Furthermore, for the first time in minimum wage history. household servants will have a minimum wage of 154.03 pesos a day, while farmhands will earn 160.19 pesos per eight-hour workday. In total, the Conasami increases cover 59 types of jobs with different minimum wages.
Recently, AMLO complained that it was a shame for Mexico to have one of the lowest minimum wages in the world. With this increase, the minimum wage will climb up eight positions on the international scale to reach 76th place out of 135 nations.
AMLO hinted that we might see further mini-wage increases in coming years, as his goal is to reach the 60th place.
López Obrador has consistently stated that the lowering of minimum wages was a neoliberal ploy instituted by former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid in 1983, which has only come to flog the standard of living of millions of Mexicans. The current number of Mexicans living below the poverty line is about 60 percent of a national population of 130 million.
After the wage increase was published in the Official Gazette, AMLO said he had hoped for the support of the Mexican business community.
“I’m sorry that there was no agreement because that would have been for the best,” he said.
“However, I consider the decision made by the Minimum Wages Commission to be a good one.”
AMLO added that he believed that the wage hike would not affect inflation, slated to close in 2020 very close to 3 percent.
…Dec. 30, 2020