MEXICO CITY — Mexican employers are facing changes on the labor front, including a proposal that would mandate hiring disabled workers.
Under one proposal, companies that do not employ a minimum of 5 percent disabled workers would be fined.
Political parties, unions and the private sector are meeting to discuss changes to the Mexican labor law. Proposals will go to the Chamber of Deputies for debate this fall or early next year, said a Labor Ministry representative.
Three of Mexico's main political parties have proposed mandatory hiring of the disabled. The ruling party, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) has proposed 1 percent, the center-right Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN), 2 percent; and the left-leaning Partido de la Revoluci¢n Democratica (PRD) proposed 5 percent.
``Our party is the only one that proposes a fine, since without one, it is not considered a law by many people,'' PRD deputy Felipe Rodriguez said in an Aug. 31 interview at his office in Mexico City.
PRD proposed fines of $45-$900.
Legislation for the disabled does not exist yet in Mexico, but some firms and government offices are hiring disabled workers.
For example, injection molder Tecnologica Plastico Mecanica SA de CV started hiring disabled workers by chance about three years ago, said Sergio Sosa Bravo, finance and marketing director.
A group of students with learning problems toured the Mexico City plant, and one was so enthusiastic that he asked the operations manager, Sergio's brother Juan, for a job.
``The social worker called back a week later, saying that the student insisted he had a job. Seeing that he was so determined, Juan and I gave him a job just to see if he could do it. Well, it turned out he could, and he's [been] working as an operator for the last three years,'' Sergio Sosa said.
Today two of the 70 employees at TPM's Mexico City plant are disabled, as are five of the 50 workers at its Chihuahua plant.
``Our goal is to have 10 percent of [our] work force as handicapped,'' Juan Sosa said.
He added that the great benefit has been that the ``workplace is more human,'' with more interaction among the workers.
According to Mexico's statistics institute, Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia, 10 percent of the nation's work force can be classified as disabled.
But Rodriguez pointed out that of those 2,700 workers, only 34 percent have government or private sector positions that provide the benefits of social security, vacation pay, Christmas bonuses, and profit-sharing. The remaining 66 percent work part time or informally, and their employers are not required to provide health benefits or year-round employment.
In their current forms, it appears the varying proposals do not specifically mention maquiladoras, although as private-sector firms, they must comply with the labor law.