Workers' Control in Latin America, 1930-1979

By Jonathan C. Brown | Go to book overview

problems of the retirees began in earnest. In that year, the railway workers, including the retired workers, were incorporated into Mexico's Social Security Administration. That state agency attempted to liquidate all of its future obligations--including retirement pay, medical attention, and paid funeral services--by offering the retired workers a modest onetime payment. The workers refused to renounce their retirement benefits and accept what they considered to be an insultingly low amount. In 1994, the retired workers--now numbering only ten thousand--continued to baffle for their retirement benefits against administrative intransigence and corruption. 92

In the meantime, active railway workers today are confronting a different battle. In 1988, the Salinas administration set in motion the privatization of the state-run enterprise. Privately owned Mexican and Spanish companies have just received concessions to operate seven of the twenty-eight railway shops. On the National Railways, management has implemented new productivity incentives and merit-based job advancement policies. Downsizing began. Between 1990 and 1991, twenty thousand of the ninety-two thousand railway workers "voluntarily" retired in preparation for privatization. 93 Early in 1995, the Mexican government announced that the National Railways would be sold off to the highest bidders in order to repay the nation's international debt. The workers will again face foreign managers in the workplace as the struggle for workers' control continues.


Notes

The author would like to thank Alan Knight for his comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.

1.
The Mission reconstructed nineteen hundred miles of track on several lines between the United States and Mexico City as well as southbound lines to the Guatemalan border.
2.
H. Hill memo, 10 March 1942, National Archives and Record Service, Washington, D.C., Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State, State Department Correspondence, 194o-44, Decimal Files (hereafter cited as NAW, RG 59), 812-77/1479.
3.
Lorena M. Parlee, "The Impact of United States Railroad Unions on Organized Labor and Government Policy in Mexico," Hispanic American Historical Review 64, no. 3 ( August 1984): 450.
4.
El Ferrocarrilero, 20 June 1940, as quoted in Parlee, "Impact of United States Railroad Unions,"456.
5.
Javier Sánchez Mejorada quoted in "Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México", Brevereseña histórica de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos

-93-

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