Work and Unionism in Mexico:

Challenges for MORENA and the Fourth Transformation Government

Enrique de la Garza Toledo and Gerardo Otero

Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) landslide electoral triumph as Mexico’s president in 2018 has provoked wrathful criticisms by the groups and classes that see their privileges in danger. On the other hand, this win by AMLO and his Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA) party has raised huge expectations for the left about his promised fourth historical transformation (4T) of Mexico. AMLO compares such transformation with the three great historical transformations that have taken place in Mexico, each of which necessitated violent means for power ascension: the 1821 revolution of independence from Spain, the liberal reform expressed in the 1857 Constitution and, finally, the Mexican Revolution that yielded the 1917 Constitution. The vast contrast of the 4T pledged by AMLO and MORENA is that these actors reached power through an overwhelming, legal and legitimate electoral triumph with over 53% of the vote for the presidency and absolute majority control of both chambers of Congress. In this national-level election, MORENA won in all but one of the states in the federation of 32 states, although it did not win majorities in a few state legislatures. The 4T government thus unleashes both strong fears and hopes depending on the point of view. In this article we will only discuss the prospects for workers and unions. We start, first, by discussing the labour insurgency and strikes in the first few months of 2019 and their results. Next we briefly discuss the principal changes to the labour legislation approved, meaningfully, on 1s of May of the same year. Finally, we offer a preliminary assessment of real wages and labour conditions in Mexico during the first six-to-nine months of 2019 compared with earlier years. We then outline some questions for future research, highlight the absence of an explicit labour policy of the 4T government and outline some challenges for the labour movement.


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