MEXICO CITY – Tens of thousands of workers marched on Monday in Mexico City to demand more labor rights and harshly criticized the stance on the issue taken by the government, which, in a simultaneous event, emphasized that “the good employment figures” are a reflection of the nation’s strength vis-a-vis foreign challenges.
“Salaries, loans and the quality of life have improved. We’ve always thought as a union that a well-paid worker has no reason to get into corruption,” said Efren Rodriguez, a member of the Telephone Workers Union.
Rodriguez was one of the thousands who turned out to protest on international workers day in the Mexican capital’s huge downtown square, where members of the country’s main unions congregated.
Assembling on the Zocalo were members from the Workers Confederation of Mexico (CTM), the National Education Workers Coordinator (CNTE) and the Federal District’s passenger transport union (STTP), among others.
STTP member Rosalba Yebra said that there has been “no progress” for Mexican workers, given that employers continue treating workers like “a robot without feelings” and the fact that the union movement has little strength.
“It’s the worst crisis Mexico has suffered, and in reality there are few of us who have a job with a collective contract,” she said, adding that the 14-20 percent rise in gasoline prices in January had impacted the sector.
Alberto Barrios, with the UNTyPP oil workers union said that the minimum wage of 80.04 pesos (about $4.25) per day is one of the lowest in the world, which means that – comparatively speaking – the price of gasoline is “the most expensive in the world.”
All this has an impact on inflation, which stood at an annualized 5.35 percent in March and is having a negative impact on the basic basket of goods and services, he said.
Meanwhile, at the Los Pinos presidential residence, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto presented a radically different scenario from what the demonstrators were portraying.
He presented excellent job figures showing that unemployment stood at 3.2 percent in March, the lowest in a decade, and touted the fact that the country’s economy strengthened during the first quarter even though uncertainty prevails with Trump’s inauguration as leader of Mexico’s largest trade partner.
“Workers are showing their unbreakable commitment to national development,” Peña Nieto said, adding that the country is viewed as “strong and determined” after the start of a year that has been “one of the biggest tests” the country has faced.
Although a good portion of the workers who had congregated in the capital had dispersed by 1 pm, other groups continued protesting at several sites around the city without any significant incidents being reported.