A tentative deal that ended a farmworker strike in Baja, Mexico may be unraveling. Last month, in an effort to end a crippling labor action that had slowed produce exports to the United States, the Mexican government “tentatively agreed to boost wages by footing part of the increased payroll costs.”
But now, agribusiness owners are not supporting the deal publicly, and there are questions about whether the government is truly willing – or able – to subsidize the wages of farmworkers, who have received few labor concessions over the years. If the agreement falls through, there are concerns that unrest could result.
Did the Mexican government agree to the deal simply as a “quick-fix” solution? Some experts think so.
“The government is desperate because the protests were very big and generated great sympathy for the laborers in Mexico and beyond,” said Raul Trejo Delarbre, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Mexico.
The agreement, Trejo and other experts said, is an extreme proposal with significant implications for the Mexican economy. Farm laborers as well as workers in other industries would probably press for similar deals.
Farmworkers have pressed for a wage equivalent to about $13 a day; currently, the average wage ranges from about $8-10 a day. Agricultural industry leaders have indicated they will not budge.
A leading business figure in Baja California called the proposal absurd in a recent interview with the Mexican newspaper Milenio. “What if all businesses and all the workers of Mexico asked for subsidies”” said Adrian Olea Mendivil, president of the Baja California Commerce Coordinating Council.
This is a story to follow. If you’ve missed the ongoing news about this labor issue, read the related links for additional reporting in the Product of Mexico series with writing by Richard Marosi.