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Investment in transport infrastructure and workers can transform Mexico into global transport hub

news 31 Mar 2023

MEXICO CITY The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has this week called on Mexico’s Obrador Government to join forces with transport unions to transform the country’s transport systems into world leading hubs.

Through a series of high-level meetings with Mexican officials and unions, including with the Minister of Transport and Foreign Secretary and presenting to the Mexican Senate’s Labour and Social Security Commission, ITF has called on policymakers and unions to work together to make Mexico’s transport systems a model for Latin America.

Mexico is poised to harvest enormous economic benefits from its position and potential as a world-leading global transport hub. The country promises to connect businesses to 1 billion consumers and 60% of the world’s GDP and with access to Atlantic and Pacific trade routes, ITF has urged policymakers to build on the country’s existing major transport hubs in aviation, maritime, road and rail.

Leading ITF’s delegation, ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton told Mexican officials today that collaboration with unions is what will make the country’s transport systems fit for the future. 

“Despite significant improvements made by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government, chronic under investment is still holding back Mexico’s transport networks,” said Cotton. “It’s not enough to finance climate and economic advances, what we need is to see systematic improvements to the whole structure of transport. That must include workers’ expertise and unions supporting the creation of better jobs for workers through access to collective bargaining and other trade union support.”

‘’Mexico has a crucial position in the region, setting an example – economically, politically and morally – by putting workers’ rights at the top of the agenda. But significant investment is needed in both transport infrastructure and the labour market to reduce capacity constraints across all modes of transport,” said Cotton.

Unions outlined to ministers and policymakers a dynamic plan to trigger a step-change in Mexico’s transport strategy:

  1. Develop strong unions in the transport and tourism sectors, through growth, knowledge and expertise. This cannot be achieved unless women and young workers are fully engaged.
  2. Include worker voices in transport policy development, providing policy makers with global best practices, expertise and help in establishing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.
  3. Building productive industrial relations with major employers in transport and tourism sectors across Mexico.
  4. Developing strong transport union networks across Latin America to reflect the political opportunities in the region.

“A big part of the problem is a skills shortage caused by low pay and poor conditions which have become commonplace in the transport industry. We believe the government already recognises this and we put it to ministers that they can only find long-lasting solutions if they help us build better jobs and stronger union representation,” said Cotton. “It’s crucial that we work together with the government and employers to make transport jobs more attractive in order to solve current skills shortages and encourage women and younger generations to work in these vitally important jobs,” said Cotton.

Cotton added that building a transparent and independent labour movement in Mexico is as critical as the investment in infrastructure. 

“Workers must be able to join the union of their choice, and that union must understand the challenges facing transport and provide the support needed to achieve decent levels of pay and good working conditions. We are committed to playing our role in making this transformation happen,” Cotton concluded.

The ITF will hold its Latin American Regional Conference in August this year in Cancun, Mexico. This will bring together leaders to discuss strategies on these vitally important issues, and offer union leaders across the region the opportunity to discuss common approaches, strategies and challenges for transport workers.