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MEXICO - Energy & Mining

Carlos Pavón Campos

General Secretary, National Union of Miners and Metallurgists (FRENTE) & Federal Deputy, PRI


Carlos Pavón Campos is one of the few union leaders in Mexico who was previously a miner. Originally from Zacatecas, he is the leader of the SNMM FRENTE, federal deputy of PRI, and president of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgical, and Metal-Mechanical. His main objective as a mining leader is to make occupational safety a way of life among colleagues, ensure job stability, and improve the economic incomes of FRENTE members. Gender equality and respect for women has also been an achievement within the union he directs.

"We are focused on getting the law respected for the worker and complying with the labor reform, rather than with the criteria."
With the mining sector in need of reforms, FRENTE is seeking to play a central role to consult with lawmakers and ensure the best interests of its colleagues.
What kind of impact is the law on profit sharing having on the mining industry?

The labor reform on outsourcing included changes in profit sharing, which I do not believe is a good move. The reform was approved in April 2021, and I, as a deputy, opposed it. The reform changed the criteria for profit sharing among employees in Mexico, which used to oblige companies to share 10% of the profits among employees, and now it is much less. The Constitution, in Article 123, talks about profit and authorizes a three-way commission that defines the percentage of 10%. It is integrated for workers, companies, and the government. Therefore, it does not make sense to have a labor reform that contradicts the Constitution. Everyone in Mexico knows that the Constitution cannot be overruled by a secondary law, and we all felt that it was unfair. Where would this money go? They said they would distribute MXN104 million, but only MXN22 million was distributed, or 80% less. We are pushing on this secondary law to be in line with what is established in the Constitution. Although the Constitution does not state the commission percentage, we should be able to define it if it is 10%. This was a big hit for companies that divided their profits with their workers.

What is your view on the mining sector in Mexico in general, and do you see more investments or growth?

We have seen fewer investments; there is uncertainty, and companies do not have legal security. The energy law did not affect the Chamber of Deputies. This brought with it the push for a reform of the mining laws on lithium and other minerals such as gold, silver, and copper. This situation is not new. The decree says that the subsoil is part of the nation, and the president decides whether or not to give the authorization to mine. There is a direct correlation between metals prices and investments. Miners have discovered that lithium in Mexico is attached to a stone that is hard to process, and we have to do many studies to separate lithium from this stone. Every plant is different. Mexico has many minerals, but they are all attached to something else. Plants need to be built for this class of minerals to be extracted onsite.

Why should the public sector consult with workers before implementing reforms on labor laws?

The laws are not always revised to help workers; sometimes, they harm them. I always remind the Chamber of Deputies that we never consult with the workers. To fully understand, they would have to be a worker in the mining industry. The chamber should consult more with workers to know and understand exactly how these reforms will impact them. Many thought that they would be in favor of them, but they are not. The labor reform is dispersive and allows the authorities to set criteria that do not comply with the laws but are based on personal opinions. Every judge has different criteria. We will wait and work with deputies and senators to have more defined laws. We will see if a law authorizes the change. Everything that a worker should do is now being done by a employment center. Outsourced people were used to other conditions and benefits. In syndicates, we have stability and security for outsourcing. It was their decision.

What projects is the union focusing on?

We are focused on getting the law respected for the worker and complying with the labor reform, rather than with the criteria. Our goal is to make the employment center understand that we cannot continue with the criteria that they create. We should comply with what the law establishes. All the laws created are then based on criteria. This no longer makes it a law but rather the opinion of the person that handles them.



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