Mexican left proposes weakening oil union power

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s main leftist party said Thursday it is willing to cut back on the enormous power that the country’s oil workers’ union wields in the state-run oil company, Pemex.

Production has been dropping steadily at Pemex, corruption is rampant within the company and President Enrique Pena Nieto is expected to present a proposal next week to open up the oil company to greater private-sector participation.

While Pena Nieto has not announced details of the plan, the fact that the union is an ally of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party makes it less likely the reform proposal will hit the union hard.

The leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party has opposed any attempt to reform Mexico’s constitution to allow concessions, risk contracts or private investment in the oil industry.

But Democratic Revolution leader Jesus Zambrano said his party is willing to change some things, like the five seats the union holds on the company’s board of directors. That is about one-third of the board; government and company officials occupy the rest.

Zambrano said some union members might be allowed to say on the board, but not vote. He also called for investigations of how some union leaders have amassed impressive fortunes.

Union boss Carlos Romero Deschamps serves as a senator from Pena Nieto’s party. Mexican news media have published reports on his son’s million-dollar Ferrari and his daughter’s trips to Europe in private jets.

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