The period of discussions and dialogue tables on the reduction of working hours in Mexico has concluded. The initiative aims to implement two days of mandatory rest for every five days of work, with full payment, for millions of Mexican workers. Thus, the working day would go from 48 to 40 hours per week. The initiative – presented in March by the Morenoist representative Susana Prieto Terrazas – started with a series of setbacks that postponed its discussion, first at the end of April, and then in the September session period.
After the delay, in October it was resolved that the ruling would go through the open parliament forums convened by the Chamber of Deputies, which would include the voices of academics, magistrates, businessmen, workers and union leaders. Throughout five forums, participants expressed their visions, data and proposals on the opinion and, finally, this Wednesday the long-awaited consensus of all parliamentary groups was reached that will allow the opinion to be sent for discussion in plenary.
“In these open parliaments, several experts came and told us that if we work less, we produce more. The businessmen of this country who have been saying for years that we need to produce more, have good news: with the reduction of the working day, we are going to produce more […] That is another of the benefits of the initiative. And when they say that the payroll cost will increase, it does not exceed 2% of the cost of the finished products for sale to the public. “We are talking about crumbs for businessmen,” said representative Prieto Terrazas on the program this Wednesday. Parliament Live, of the Chamber of Deputies.
What was decided about the reduction of working hours?
This Wednesday, the opinion that reforms constitutional article 123, regarding work hours and rest, was finally approved in the Constitutional Points Commission. The Political Coordination Board (Jucopo) noted in X (formerly Twitter) that will send to the Board of Directors the conclusions and white papers of the open parliament on the reduction of working hours to continue the legislative process. The proposal is preparing revisions and corrections to then be discussed in plenary session, and it is expected to be voted on before December 15, 2023, the date on which the current session ends.
If approved in the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies, the Chamber of Senators would vote on the initiative, and it would go through two phases: the modification to the Constitution and the changes to the Federal Labor Law (LFT) to define what the rules are for its implementation. At that stage, the initiative could be adjusted with issues such as the gradualness of its implementation, or the flexibility of the standard. However, there is still a long way to go before the initiative comes to fruition and the working day is reduced to 40 hours. The initiative must be approved by the Senate, and then by 51% of local congresses.
The deputy of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Tereso Medina Ramírez, called on businessmen to see the reduction of working hours as an investment. “International organizations have said and maintained that it is not true that working more hours leads to better productivity. I call on you to see this as an investment, and that we better start talking about training, education, training, and a very important issue, measuring productivity so that this measurement becomes real bonuses and achievable, and improve the salaries of workers,” he said.
On social networks, citizens have mobilized under the hashtag #MeFor40Hours as a show of support for the approval of the initiative. This is not the only one that aims to provide better working conditions for Mexicans. Recently, a change was made to the table of occupational diseases that includes thirty types of occupational cancers, severe stress and diseases such as endometriosis. In addition, there are initiatives such as the Chair Law so that those who work standing can take breaks throughout the day and avoid repercussions on their health.
The regulation of working hours is one of the oldest concerns in terms of labor legislation. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), it had already been recognized at the beginning of the 19th century that working for long periods posed a danger to the health of workers and their families. The first agreement adopted in 1919 by the organization limited working hours and established adequate rest periods for employees in order to guarantee productivity in companies and, at the same time, take care of the physical and mental health of workers.
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