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18 Apr 2022

Daina Beth Solomon, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Mexico: Union at Panasonic plant calls for U.S. investigation over labour abuses violating trade deal

"Mexican union calls for U.S. probe into alleged labor abuses at Panasonic plant", 18 April 2022

A Mexican union...asked the U.S. government to investigate a Panasonic plant for alleged worker rights abuses, the latest in a series of disputes seeking to leverage a new trade deal to improve workplace conditions in Mexico.

In a petition to U.S. labor officials, filed on Monday...Mexican union SNITIS said a Panasonic car parts plant in the border city of Reynosa violated the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by signing a union contract behind workers' backs and firing several dozen employees who protested.

"It's important to keep the U.S. government informed that worker rights are being violated," said Rosario Moreno, head of SNITIS, an independent union...

"They were given a contract they didn't even know about," Moreno said of the Panasonic deal with rival union SIAMARM.

The U.S. government was reviewing the petition, a Biden administration spokesperson said...

...Panasonic Corporation of North America said it was committed to complying with Mexico's labor laws and collective bargaining process, and had "the strongest of interest" in ensuring the dispute does not impact employees' freedom to collectively bargain.

It also said the dispute was between SNITIS and SIAMARM and "does not directly involve Panasonic."...

Both Panasonic and the Tamaulipas labor board, where the contract that SNITIS says was signed without worker consent was registered, said the deal was legal...

The dispute at Panasonic grew out of a vote last year in which workers rejected their union contract...

SNITIS says Panasonic signed a contract with SIAMARM ahead of the April election and began to withhold union dues from worker paychecks.

SIAMARM, part of one of Mexico's biggest labor groups, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), could not be reached for comment...

Under the contract...salaries begin at 261.49 pesos ($13.10) a day - barely above Mexico's daily minimum wage of 260.34 pesos. The highest position earns 315 pesos ($15.81) a day.

Part of the following timelines

Mexico: On behalf of Reynosa Panasonic workers, U.S. files third labor complaint under the USMCA

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