Thursday, 29 October 2020

Mexican factories risk workers’ lives

A number of Mexican firms producing goods for the US market are ignoring coronavirus lockdown rules. This puts their workforces in grave danger of contracting COVID-19

Workers at factories in Tijuana manufacturing for Hyundai, Roger’s, Carso, Safran, Hisense and Ontex have all staged protests in recent days, according to journalist Alfredo Alvarez.

Luis Hernandez, who heads the Manufacturing and Export Industry Association (Index) in the Mexican state of Baja California, said 60% of the region’s 1,200 suppliers have shut. He said there have been issues with about 20 companies where “employees see the pandemic as an opportunity to go on paid leave.”

- Advertisement -

Officially, only essential businesses are permitted to stay open in Mexico. Yet many Mexican factories that assemble, manufacture, or process goods to be exported to the US have kept up production nonetheless. Alfredo Alvarez has reported that laborers have been told they will be fired unless they show up to work.

Deadly consequences

This refusal to heed the lockdown has had the gravest consequences, with 20 workers reported to have died from the coronavirus — 13 of them in a factory producing car parts for Lear Corporation in the city of Ciudad Juarez.

Mexican firms depend heavily on trade with the United States, which in turn can exert substantial political pressure

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Lear Corporation’s health department became aware of COVID-19 cases among its workforce in late March, handing out pain killers to those infected and demanding they return to work. Apparently, other companies are being similarly careless with their workers.

- Advertisement -

On Wednesday last, for instance, a spokesperson for Surgical Specialities, which manufactures medical products, confirmed that two workers at the firm’s Tijuana site had died from coronavirus infections.

The factory has been allowed to keep up production as medical products are considered essential. But laborers have reported that the workforce present at the factory has not been thinned out to 50%, as stipulated in the guidelines. Index now recommends that companies install thermal testing facilities at factory gates to detect possible coronavirus infections among workers. So far, only one company has followed this advice.

Millions of jobs at risk

The pressure to keep up production, meanwhile, not only stems from Mexican companies but also US demand. Christopher Landau, the US ambassador to Mexico, tweeted that he would do everything in his power to keep supply chains up and running. In Mexico, meanwhile, some seven million people are employed in the manufacturing sector, which comprises two-thirds of all Mexican exports.

But Mexico and the US do not always agree on which sectors are essential. While the former only classifies food producers and health care product manufacturers as crucial, the US also deems the aerospace and arms industry indispensable.

This is not always a straightforward call to make. While Mexico’s lighting industry considers itself a key sector for security reasons, Baja California governor Jaime Bonilla closed a factory run by US company Copper Lightning. And Industry Representative Hernandez fears that unless Mexico and the US come to an understanding soon, supply chains will disintegrate.

Governor Bonilla, a member of the ruling Morena party, has in fact shut down a range of factories refusing to comply with lockdown rules. One reason, presumably, is that region’s hospitals are already at maximum capacity. Speaking to journalists, he criticized that “firms are out to make more money, even though they are risking their workers’ health.” The state of Baja California has seen the third-highest number of coronavirus infections across Mexico. So far, 975 people have tested positive for the virus, and 133 have died. Valdez has, however, signaled he might consider lifting restrictions, saying he was closely monitoring developments in the US, where production sites are continuing to operated under certain conditions.

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

Mexico vows ‘cleanup’ after ex-defense chief arrested in US

Q24N - President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that...

Indigenous Mexicans turn inward to survive COVID-19, barricading villages and growing their own food

Zapotec farmers return from their ‘milpa,’ the garden plots that provide...

MOST READ

Parks opening begins: Mora announced reopening on November 1

QCOSTARICA - Last month, the Central Government announced that the reopening of public areas such as parks would remain in the hands of each...

COVID-19 in Costa Rica: 1,372 new cases and 30 deaths for Sunday and Monday

QCOSTARICA - The report Monday by the Ministry of Health detailed 1,372 new cases for 48 hours from Saturday to Monday, for a total...

Coronavirus and flights: study reveals low transmission of COVID-19 on board aircraft

QCOSTARICA - The International Air Transport Association (IATA), released an updated registry of infections of COVID-19 on board commercial flights, revealing a low incidence...

Security resumed mega-operations this Saturday

QCOSTARICA - This Saturday, October 24, the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) resumed mega-operations throughout the country. On Saturday night, the Fuerza Publica (national police),...

Agreement between legislators: marchamo would drop only for vehicles of less than ¢15 million

QCOSTARICA - Legislators from different political parties reached an agreement on Monday, October 26, to reduce the property tax portion of the 2021 Marchamo,...

World Bank provides PHP 29 Billion to support households during the pandemic

The Philippines is one of the Asian countries that has been greatly affected by Pandemic. Economists have even estimated the country will lose up...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Costa Rica and Latin America.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.