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Maquiladora leader defends industry from Pope Francis

February 18, 2016 Updated 2/18/2016

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The leader of Mexico’s 5,000-plus maquiladoras has dismissed the idea that the industry cares little about the family life of its employees.

Pope Francis criticized working conditions in Mexico on Feb. 17, and he also heard from Daisy Flores Gámez, a Juarez worker said poor working hours and low salaries played havoc with family life in the city, which is across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Family homes in the city had “become dormitories,” she said, lamenting that the absence of working parents had led to a breakdown in certain sectors of society. “Something has to be done.”

She called for the introduction of an eight-hour working day and higher wages.

Francis had harsh words for employers, saying “God will hold accountable the slavers of our day, and we must do everything to make sure that these situations do not happen again.”

In response, Federico Serrano Bañuelos, president of the Consejo Nacional de la Industria Maquiladora y Manufactura de Exportación (Index), said in a Spanish-language announcement: “Offering space and adequate working hours to working mothers to enable them to spend more time with their children is something this industry has been involved in for many years as (Index) considers encouraging and strengthening universal values to be of the utmost importance.”

He added that in Ciudad Juárez Index has worked “hand-in-hand with the civil society to engender and promote civic values. … The philosophy of Index’s member companies is to promote the common good, putting people above everything else and supporting them every day in the development of their talents and abilities.”

Index is an umbrella council for 20 maquiladora associations that represent the interest of between 5,000-6,000 companies across Mexico.

Between 40-50 percent of the companies work for the automotive industry and many of them have injection molding operations, according to former Index President Emilio Cadena Rubio.

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