Home News As U.S. considers the 4-day work week, Mexico debates the 6-day week

As U.S. considers the 4-day work week, Mexico debates the 6-day week

As U.S. considers the 4-day work week, Mexico debates the 6-day week


CANCÚN, Mexico — On a latest Friday, like almost daily, Maricela de la Cruz awakened at 5 a.m. She caught two buses to get from her mother and father’ modest condominium on the outskirts of Cancún to the J.W. Marriott Resort & Spa. As vacationers sunned on the white-sand seashore outdoors, she spent eight hours scrubbing bogs and making beds.

The 28-year-old housekeeper works six days each week. So do thousands and thousands of different working-class folks in Mexico — lodge workers, auto assemblers, waiters.

However now, staff in the US’ No. 1 buying and selling associate are rebelling. The Mexican Congress is debating a constitutional modification to ensure workers two days off per week, a proposal pushed by unions. Over eight many years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ushered within the five-day workweek in the US, it lastly is likely to be coming to Mexico.

“Each employee goals of this,” de la Cruz stated. “Extra social justice.”

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The Mexican staff’ battle for the 40-hour week comes amid a rising international debate over work schedules. But there’s a huge divide in how that dialog is taking part in out. Whereas North People and Europeans experiment with a four-day week, many workers in growing international locations toil six days — or extra. (In India, a tech billionaire lately induced an uproar by suggesting a 70-hour week.)

The controversy goes to elementary questions of staff’ rights and their obligations to their corporations and their nations’ growth.

De la Cruz joined 1000’s of cooks, waitresses, bellboys and gardeners marching by way of downtown Cancún below a late-afternoon solar final month, chanting “Sure to 2 days off!”

“We’ve seen how different international locations have shorter hours than us,” she stated.

However Mexico is much less productive than extra developed international locations, stated Jesús Almaguer, president of the Resort Affiliation of Cancún. “First, we’ve to develop economically and industrially in an effort to have these” — he paused — “these privileges.”

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A brash lawyer says: ‘That is the second’

The five-day battle’s most seen champion is Susana Prieto, a raspy-voiced labor lawyer who as soon as labored in an meeting plant in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, the maquiladora middle throughout from El Paso After she received election to Congress in 2021 with the governing Morena get together, she found there had been prior efforts to legislate a five-day workweek. Seventeen of them, to be exact.

“I stated, ‘I believe that is the second,’” Prieto recalled.

Morena had a majority in Congress and managed greater than half of state legislatures — essential for amending the structure. And get together founder Andrés Manuel López Obrador had emerged as Mexico’s most pro-labor president in many years.

Since taking workplace in 2018, he has tripled the minimal wage, to the equal of round $1.80 an hour. He has doubled mandated trip time, to 12 days a 12 months. He has outlawed the abusive “subcontracting” of full-time workers.

And Latin America was starting to vary. Historically, “our mannequin of growth has been primarily based on low salaries and uncooked supplies,” stated Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, an economist on the Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico. However Colombia and Chile, each led by leftists, handed legal guidelines this 12 months to shorten the workweek.

In April, Prieto’s invoice was authorized by the Home Committee on constitutional Points.

“The enterprise house owners had a coronary heart assault,” she stated.

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Mexican unions turn out to be an actual factor

The push for change hasn’t come solely from above. Unions have turn out to be extra unbiased, partly because of the revamped North American free-trade settlement that took impact in 2020. In the negotiations, Mexico agreed to reform its system of weak, business-controlled unions. Now, staff have the fitting to decide on their labor leaders by secret poll.

That has empowered folks equivalent to Mario Machuca, the Cancún-based regional consultant for the Revolutionary Confederation of Employees and Peasants. The union has spearheaded protests in favor of the five-day workweek.

“Right this moment, these of us who’re [union] leaders can increase our voices in favor of the employees,” he stated. “As a result of we actually are their legit representatives.”

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The labor reforms are getting a further enhance from a brand new technology of Mexicans who’re extra related to the world — and one another — by the web, migration and tourism.

Alejandra Chang, 32, grew up watching her father work six days every week as a waiter. Now she does the identical at a Cancún resort, Seadust. Between work and her commute — not less than an hour every method — she has little private time. She is set to vary that.

One other time off every week “would change my life,” she stated. “I’d see my household.”

José Rubén Cob, 33, a cook dinner on the Hyatt Ziva resort, has little doubt what’s driving the employee mobilization. He holds up his iPhone. “It’s due to this,” he stated. Employees are utilizing Fb and WhatsApp to prepare demonstrations. “Now, if we share one thing right here in Cancún, you will discover out about it all around the nation.”

Mexicans work lengthy hours, however productiveness lags

Mexico is among the many hardest-working of the main industrialized international locations, in keeping with knowledge from the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth, or OECD. The typical employee clocks 2,226 hours a 12 months — 415 greater than in the US, and 540 greater than in Canada.

However Mexico has lagged woefully in productiveness: GDP per employee grew simply 0.1 p.c a 12 months from 1991 to 2020, in keeping with the World Financial institution. Progress throughout the OECD, a gaggle of largely rich North American and European international locations, averaged 1.1 p.c throughout that interval. And round half the workforce nonetheless labors within the casual sector, with little entry to authorized protections or advantages. Economists warn that the casual sector may develop as employers attempt to dodge new wage and schedule reforms.

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In Cancún, a high overseas vacation spot for American vacationers, employers fear they must rent extra staff to fill shifts, after which go on the prices to customers. Angélica Frías, the state consultant of Coparmex, the nationwide enterprise house owners’ affiliation, has two phrases for the pro-labor people: Punta Cana.

The Dominican resort “will take away the vacationers,” she stated. “It is going to be cheaper to go to different locations.”

Frías, head of a consulting agency, prides herself on operating a contemporary firm. She wears a banana-yellow blazer and denims. On the wall is a huge stencil of Steve Jobs. However even she has been bowled over by the flurry of labor reforms snaking by way of Congress.

There’s a transfer to present new dads a paid, month-long paternity go away. A “chair regulation” mandates seats and relaxation breaks for workers who work on their ft. It is probably not totally coincidental, she stated, that the presidential elections in June is looming.

Prieto factors to research that present that decreasing the workweek may end up in better-rested, more-productive workers. However López Obrador, going through blowback from employers, lately urged Congress to carry a brand new spherical of negotiations on the change.

The delay hasn’t discouraged the employees in Cancún, who’re ready to march once more.

“That is one thing we’d like,” stated Chang, the Seadust employee. “Two days off.”

Lorena Rios and Gabriela Martínez in Mexico Metropolis contributed to this report.



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