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28 Jun 2022

Mexico: Labour rights petitions submitted under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

Agência Brasil - EBC

Several complaints regarding Mexican workplace abuses related to labour standards practiced in the south of the border enshrined in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been filed.

The first labour rights petition brought an objection against Tridonex factories in Matamoros, stating that it has denied workers the right to independent representation. Later in 2021, US legislators also pressured Mexican authorities to order the General Motors (GM) Co union in the city of Silao to repeat a worker vote, alleging that abuses, such as the destruction of some ballots and the refusal to give labour inspectors documentation of the vote tally, happened and that it violates USMCA determinations.

In May 2022, the trade union SNITIS requested that US labour authorities, also under the terms of the USMCA, investigated alleged abuses of workers' rights at Panasonic's auto parts plant in Reynosa. According to SNITIS, the company allegedly violated the agreement in 2020 when it signed a union contract without the workers' knowledge and fired dozens of employees.

In early June, US asked for another investigation into alleged workers' rights violations at a Stellantis auto parts plant, examining possible abuses at Teksid Hierro de Mexico in the northern border state of Coahuila. US trade representatives argued that they were concerned that workers had been denied collective bargaining rights in connection with an "invalid" contract with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

A couple of weeks afterwards, the fifth petition under the USMCA was filled by workers at VU Manufacturing, alleging that the Michigan-based auto-parts maker was pushing them to join a union friendly to the company.

Labour Ministry also stated it intends to prohibit subcontracting of day laborers in the avocado and berry industries to ensure companies comply with USMCA requirements.

In January 2023, a second complaint was filed at VU Manufacturing. U.S. stated that it received a petition from two Mexican labor organizations alleging that the company's workers were being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining.

The US actioned the USMCA for the seventh time in March 2023, requesting the opening of an investigation at a Unique Fabricating plant in Santiago de Querétaro, alleging that workers had reported alleged violations of their rights to free association and collective bargaining.

On 20 April 2023, the independent Mexican union La Liga filed a complaint against Goodyear Mexico alleging that the company failed to apply a labor agreement concerning wages, benefits and other terms of employment, and that it failed to protect workers’ rights to freely choose their union. The US government, therefore, requested a review of the Goodyear plant under the USMCA.

In June 2023, the USA filed tenth complaint under the USMCA for alleged labour rights violations by the garment company INISA. A Mexican labor organisation called Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT) presented a petition alleging that INISA would be coercing workers to accept the company’s proposed collective bargaining agreement revisions and intervening in the union’s internal affairs. A couple of days later, the eleventh complaint was filed, requesting an investigation into alleged labour abuses at a Grupo Mexico mine, a complaint that Mexico rejected.

In August 2023, the Government of Mexico rejected for a second time a labor complaint filed by the United States. This being the twelfth labor complaint under the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM), it alleged violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining in the Japanese company Yazaki in León, Guanajuato. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre requested a response from the company, but the company did not respond.

In September 2023, Mexico received the thirteenth labor complaint filed by the United States to request that the alleged violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining be investigated at the MasAir cargo airline, this being the first complaint in the service sector. Later that month, the U.S filled the fourteenth complaint, alleging 'a serious violation of workers' rights" at Teklas Automotive's facility in Aguascalientes.

In January 2024, Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), has invoked the USMCA in defense of call center workers’. The intervention, a first in the call center industry, specifically targets Atento Servicios, a multinational corporation known for providing outsourced customer support services. Reports suggest that employees at the company’s facilities in Pachuca, Hidalgo, are being denied their basic rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The request alleges unlawful termination of workers for union organizing and interference with union activities.