Decent work, an unpaid debt with 60% of the Mexican labor force


The decent or dignified work It is a concept that goes beyond the morality of the activity, it is a profession with adequate working conditions, which respects fundamental rights and allows personal development. In Mexico the 60% of the workforce does not know this concept because it lacks at least one of these pillars.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines decent work as “productive employment that generates a fair income, job security and social protection for all, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for individuals to express their opinions, to organize themselves and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, and equality of opportunity and treatment for all, women and men”.

Every October 7 marks the World Decent Work Day, a day dedicated to the promotion of this right. The concept was launched in 1999 by Juan Somavía, then Director-General of the ILO, and refers to the creation of opportunities for all men and women to access employment under conditions of freedom, equality, Security Yes human dignity.

A person has a decent job when he has all the pillars; the absence of one only means not having a decent job. “It starts with fair pay. But you can be well paid and suffer discrimination, it’s no longer a decent job. It’s a combo, if it doesn’t have everything, it’s not a decent work“, emphasizes Pedro Américo Furtado de Oliveira, director of the ILO office for Mexico and Cuba.

In our country, at least 34.9 million people employed women do not have access to a health facility; that is to say that 6 out of 10 workers are in this state, according to the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE).

“In Mexico there are many variables that affect, we could start with the simplest, which is informality, and reach more specific problems, such as not all jobs guarantee decent work. We must also talk about the lack of access to a health establishment, paid holidays, a Christmas bonus, working hours and people’s remuneration. We can identify different numbers,” says Ana Gutiérrez, Foreign Trade and Labor Market Coordinator at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO).

As the specialist points out, when looking at other working conditions, such as people who have an employer and who work in a subordinate way, the decent work debt continues to be observed. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) has 13.3 million employees who do not have access to legal benefits, this group represents 34% of people working in this condition.

“In Mexico, labor rights are violated and this explains the number of people living in poverty and the permanence of this condition. The cause of this situation is the lack of defense mechanisms because 18 million 640,000 people, more than half of employees, lack stable contracts (52%) and the vast majority, 31 million 230,000 people, lack union organization for the negotiation and collective defense of their rights (87%)”, indicates the organization Acción Ciudadana Contra la Pobreza.

But the decent work debt in our country is also made visible by the conditions in which people work. 27% of the employed population has one working day per week of more than 48 hours, more than the legal limit established in the Federal Labor Law (LFT).

“You have to think that maybe you have a very good job because you are independent, but maybe you don’t realize it’s not such a decent job because there are no benefits, for example, there are no vacations and time is needed Rest is important for any worker, but sometimes a self-employed worker doesn’t get this process. It is important that people ask questions about the your working conditions“, emphasizes Pedro Américo Furtado.

Benefit for people and companies

However, Ana Gutiérrez considers that the absence of decent jobs it is part of a vicious circle in which not only the quality of life of those pardoned is affected, but also the productivity of businesses.

Furtado de Oliveira agrees on this, “decent work generates greater productivity, it’s not an expense, it’s a benefit. And it’s proven, we have statistics and studies on the productivity of people who have a decent job. There is no absenteeism, they comply, they wear the right shirt because it goes hand in hand. Having a decent job is generate more productivitymore profits and more jobs”.

What challenges does Mexico have in this regard? For Ana Gutiérrez, reducing informality is “the big obstacle, even if there are many, it is the first mountain we have to climb”. Increasing paid leave is a step forward because it increases the coverage and benefits available to workers covered by labor law, but it is a step forward that misses more than half of the labor force that little or nothing affects them as these benefits increase, explains the specialist.

For the ILO director, for his part, an important challenge in this regard is that workers understand the importance of the collective voice. “Now we have a whole labor reform transcendental in Mexican history, this is the truth, and it represents a great evolution that will be reaped with the future. But we must recognize the importance of the collective voice in defending workers’ rights and achieving a truly decent work environment.”

Decent work, priority strategy

Through its sector program, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) recognizes that decent work in our country “he faces enormous challenges and far-reaching challenges” so that the majority of the workforce can rely on him. This is largely due to the “deficit in social and labor justice that the public policies developed over the past decades have generated”, specifies the agency.

Decent work is one of the priority objectives of the STPS, and among the specific actions aimed at dignifying employment in Mexico, the Secretariat envisages the strengthening of self-verification and inspection mechanisms.

For 2023, the Proposed Federal Expenditure Budget (PPEF) proposes an allocation of 629.3 million pesos to the STPS to promote decent work.

“The budget programs: E003, E004 and E005 will guide their strategies and actions to help workers have decent working conditionsproductive actors are promoted and trained in the new work culture and social dialogue as a priority in labor relations, alternative mechanisms to inspection, self-management and self-compliance will be promoted and extended; The presence of federal inspectors in work centers will be reinforced by more effective inspections that will make it possible to verify compliance with labor obligations,” the agency indicates in its programmatic strategy for the next year.

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