Mexico farmworkers reach agreement with government, employer

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2015 1:24 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican farmworkers fighting low wages and poor working conditions in the border state of Baja California have reached an agreement with the government and their employers.

Daily wages will go from 100 pesos to 200 pesos ($13 a day), workers will be added to the social security system and they will be allowed to unionize, according to a statement issued by Mexico's Interior Ministry.

The measures were among 13 agreements signed Thursday that also require companies to be certified that they don't use child labor and to identify and improve the workers' housing, food, and health and safety conditions.

"What we achieved was something important for the laborers who live and work in Baja California. We are satisfied," Fidel Sanchez, leader of the laborers of the San Quintin Valley, told a Baja California radio station on Thursday.

The pay increase will be set June 4 and be retroactive to May 24, the statement said, and the federal government will help subsidize the raise. Authorities also agreed to release farmworkers who were arrested during the protests.

The agreement ends weeks of tense standoffs and confrontations between authorities and striking farmworkers.

Some 50,000 laborers have been on strike since March over low wages and long shifts without overtime, as well as deplorable living conditions and the use of child labor. Much of the produce they pick is exported to the United States.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission said Friday it would continue to monitor the situation to make sure the agreements are carried out and to prevent workers from returning to the same conditions of exploitation and poverty that constituted "modern slavery," according to a commission statement.