Union leader Bautista Union leader Bautista and green gloves, symbols in the fight for improved conditions for domestic workers.

Union winning fight for domestic workers

Contracts with wages starting at 250 pesos daily in effect in five states

Labor stability and lawful benefits normally granted to Mexican workers may soon be available to more than 2.3 million people employed as domestic laborers.


The efforts of a new trade union, with support from the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, or Conapred, have now made it mandatory in certain states for employers who hire unionized domestic workers to do so under established contracts.

According to an employment poll performed by INEGI, the national statistics institute, 95% of domestic workers are women, of whom three-quarters earn twice the daily minimum wage or less (146 pesos or US $7.20).

Only 4% of those workers are employed under the terms of a contract in which their rights and obligations are clearly stated.

Just under 20% are enrolled in the IMSS health care program, 65% never get a vacation, 47% don’t receive the year-end bonus called the aguinaldo and 45% don’t have a fixed income amount, according to the INEGI survey.

“In 2014, one out of every 10 people surveyed disagreed with granting these workers retirement plans or written contracts,” said the president of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred).

“Stereotypes like these have perpetuated this situation for decades, and we are 100 years behind in this regard,” said Alexandra Haas.


“The Labor Secretariat continues to allow longer work days and exclusion from IMSS programs for domestic workers,” she added.

But the National Union of Domestic Workers, created in 2015, has achieved the historical requirement for employers to provide domestic workers with contracts, establishing four different categories according to the worker’s responsibilities and an eight-hour work day.

Those who perform general cleaning duties and do some shopping are included in the first category and should be paid 250 pesos per day.

Those in the second category have the same duties as well as doing laundry and looking after people and/or pets. Their salary is set at 350 pesos a day.

The third category encompasses the duties of the first two plus caring for sick, elderly or disabled people, and carries a daily salary of 450 pesos.

The fourth category takes in all the others with the addition of haute cuisine cooking and caring for minors, for a 550-peso daily salary.

Those daily salaries are expected to increase by 5% annually.

“We also seek to eradicate the use of demeaning slurs, sexual harassment and any kind of discrimination,” said the leader of the Domestic Workers Union.

“It has been a constant and hard fight, but today we can say we are achieving our goals,” said Marcelina Bautista, whose union has 500 members in the states of México, Puebla, Colima, Chiapas and Mexico City, the states in which the new labor regulations apply.

The union’s challenge now is “to reach all the states, and let [domestic] workers know and assert their rights.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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  • Henry Wilson

    smoke and mirrors. not real if history is any guide. reality: the law means nothing in mexico. contracts and agreements mean nothing. all that matters is the employer of the domestic worker will make it clear to her that no matter what the law says, if she wants to keep working she will accept what she has always been paid…or she will be looking for another job. and that is how it goes in mexico between employers and their workers. always has. probably always will.

    • If she or he goes to the Junta de Conciliacion, the law will be enforced.

      • Henry Wilson

        when was the law in mexico last enforced against the power elites in favor of the worker? certainly not since pri took control of this nation.

        • The labor law, social security, etc is always more enforced under the PRI – The PRI has always looked at enforcement as a source of income. In Feb. of 2015 fines for labor and social security violations were raised as much as 500% and we are seeing enforcement at a level never seen before. I was just called to assist a small manufacturer (45 employees) being fined 4 million pesos for lack of health and safety documentation. The PAN relaxed enforcement but the PRI always has enforced the labor law and health and safety regulations. An employer cannot win – only the attorneys win.

          • Henry Wilson

            i note from your comment that you are representing employers against the government…not the employees directly against the employer. big difference. i maintain that if you walked into the office of the employer with the domestic house maid worker to complain about her not being paid minimum wage under the law, that employer would laugh in your face.

          • You are incorrect – I am not a labor attorney but I am the legal representative for a several manufacturers and I handle their labor disputes as part of the package of representation that we provide. We always negotiate a settlement. My law office gives free advice to any worker that has a complaint and we explain their rights and how to enforce them. When they ask for representation, we represent them pro bono – I have never charged a worker for a labor lawsuit. I have represented several domestic workers including one who sued 3 employers. The STPS is the prosecutor for workers and if a domestic worker has a complaint, they will sue the employer. I have presented several law suits pro bono and the employer can laugh all they want but they must answer the citatorio – if they are served more than twice, they can be arrested. If they refuse to pay, I go with the STPS to their business or residence and the STPS impounds 400% of the value of the amount owed to the worker. The Social Security operates the same way. By the way, I have a housekeeper that has worked 18 years for me, she is enrolled in Social Security and I just paid her aguinaldo and she gets 15 days vacation every year.

  • kallen

    I will definitely make me think twice before hiring anyone.

  • Pat

    This isn’t about getting domestic workers more pay and benefits; it’s about taxing workers whom have previously been in the underground economy. Identify them and their rate of pay and you can tax them.

  • Those salaries are likely to lead to people losing jobs just as 15-dollar minimum wage laws have done in the U.S., to workers’ dismay.

  • pedrochapala

    stupid union . we pay our part time housekeeper 180 pesos for 4 hours work@twice/week so according to them if we want to be a-holes we can tell her to take less or take a hike.she does general cleaning and no shopping

    • The very minimum a domestic worker can earn is $547.80 per week no matter how many days or hours they worked. Enrollment in Social Security, aguinaldo, and vacations are obligatory.

  • David Nichols

    This only applies if you hire a “unionized worker”–per the story.
    So the unionized worker is going to tell a prospective employer, “these will be the terms of my employment, regardless of your job requirements”…!
    Good luck getting hired now that you’re paying union dues, and don’t worry about union corruption–they only have your welfare in mind…they even said so.!!!

  • The labor law has always covered domestic workers; the entire chapter 13 of the Federal Labor law covers domestic workers. Domestic workers must be given a labor contract, be enrolled in Social Security, be paid vacations, aguinaldo and overtime. That a Union is organizing these workers is what is new but the law is the same. Just because a worker does not have a formal contract does not mean that she/he cannot go to the Junta de Conciliacion and sue the employer. He/she has up to a year after leaving employment to complain of nonpayment of aguinaldo and vacations. A domestic worker who has not been enrolled in Social Security can complain and Social Security will enroll that person and from the day they first started working and charge the employer plus a stiff fine. Remember that wages are 6 days x the daily wage plus 25% – it does not matter whether the worker works 1 day or 6 days, you cannot pay less than a full time minimum wage job. (As of Jan. 1, 80.04 pesos per day, $547.80 per week) Any worker being paid less can sue. I have handled several of these lawsuits, one where a woman sued 3 employers at the same time. The employee always prevails in these lawsuits. An employer cannot rescind the labor contract without cause which is almost impossible to prove, which means the employer is liable for 3 months wages plus 12 days wages for every year worked. Just because domestic workers do not often sue does not mean that they cannot. If you hire a domestic worker in your home, you have the same obligations that a factory owner with 100 employees.

    • I have dual citizenship and am a licensed Mexican attorney. Much of my practice is defending employers from labor lawsuits.

      • B.Murphy-Bridge

        What is the average wage for men & women who do back-breaking labor in the ag fields 8 hours a day?

        • More than 50% of agricultural land are ejidos which are usually small family operations. Family businesses are not subject to the labor law and profits are divided among family members by their own criteria. Farms with employees are subject to the labor law and their are minimum wages according to the job. There are 170 minimum wages in Mexico in addition to the minimum daily. There is probably more abuse in the agricultural sector than in others because of the isolation and low education level of many of the workers. Most agricultural employees are subject to seasonal contracts. (Trabajadores eventuales)

        • Arie Arazi

          A very good question. We should compare the domestic worker whose work is light to the peon who performs the hard work in construction, carrying every thing heavy that the albanil and the maestro don’t care to do. On the average a peon gets a 1000 pesos a week of 48 hours. The Albanil gets 1500 pesos on the average and the Maestro gets up to 2500 pesos per week.
          What is proposed in this article is that a domestic gets a minimum of 250 pesos a day that is 1250/week + 2 weeks vacation + 2 weeks aguinaldo.+ upon dismissal 3 months salary + 12 days for each year worked, no matter whether she works two or eight hours. The daily pay to
          include the benefits of a category1 would become 320 or 1600 per week.
          Based on the above rule many domestic workers will be dismissed to be replaced by hourly
          In the US one of the most advanced countries, no worker receives such a benefits package that offers almost four months compensation for each year worked.

          • B.Murphy-Bridge

            1000 pesos for 48hours = 20.83 pesos an hour which is equivalent to approx. $1.00 US an hour. How can a man support a wife and 2 children ? Food, clothes, water trucked to the casa if no city water, propane or wood for cooking, candles if no electricity, plus school supplies ~ often a uniform required with black shoes. That is a depressing picture as it suggests that for indigenous ag workers ‘basic survival’ mothers are also needed in the fields.

  • Henry Wilson

    thanks for the infomercial. i dont believe it for a second and neither do any of my mexican day laborer friends (yes..i have several) to whom i showed your propaganda. not in their experience. and not in mine of listening to real life experiences from real life mexican campesinos.

    • I am not propagandizing – and this article is about domestic workers and
      not campesinos and I am certainly not looking for new clients with
      labor problems. I have a lot of experience in this area and I spent 6
      months working for the STPS in labor inspection. I know from that
      experience that a lot of workers do not take advantage of the protection
      of the STPS out of ignorance or the mistaken idea that the STPS is on
      the side of the employer. The truth is there is no real justice for the
      worker or the employer, but all of us involved in this field are hoping
      that the proposed constitutional reform of Art. 123 will make a
      difference. It requires obligatory conciliation when there is a dispute
      between workers and employers and in the absence of a resolution, an
      oral hearing before a labor judge without attorneys.