Image credits: Luisa Maria Alcalde
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News Article

Ministry of Labor's Next Steps on GM, TRIDONEX Labor Complaints

By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 06/24/2021 - 10:07

In May, the US Trade Representative (USTR) introduced the first ever labor complaint under the USMCA against a union of GM workers in Silao, Guanajuato. Earlier that month, US unions had also urged USTR to use the Rapid Response Mechanism against Tridonex, an auto parts facility in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. This week, Mexico’s Ministry of Labor announced a follow-up on both matters. 

Mexico to Review Tridonex Complaint

On June 19, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy send a formal communication to USTR “admitting for review” the claim against Tridonex. “With this response, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Labor and all applicable parties will review the case and the determine with facts and judicial elements whether there is a denial of workers’ rights based on Mexico’s USMCA commitments,” said both ministries in a joint statement. The revision will be shared with the USTR on July 24 at the latest.

The Ministries conceded that if there is a labor rights violation, reparations should be made to the US counterparts. The case against Tridonex was brought to the attention of the USTR by US unions, which called for the review of alleged ongoing human rights violation after “massive layoffs” of workers with the goal of changing their existing union. 

Labor representatives argue that for over two years, workers at Tridonex have been “harassed and fired” for trying to join SNITIS. “USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of union protection and their corrupt deals with employers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The ongoing harassment of Susana Prieto and SNITIS members is a textbook violation of the labor laws Mexico has pledged to uphold.” 

“Tridonex workers are suffering from the abuses of a corrupt and criminal union leader who is protected by the company so that it can continue providing precarious wages and working conditions,” said Susana Prieto in the joint statement. The labor complaint against Tridonex was set to be the first labor complaint under USMCA but the case against GM' plant in Silao was filed first. 

Follow Ups on GM’s Labor Complaint

Almost the same week US unions requested USTR’s support in the Tridonex case, the USTR formally asked Mexico to review whether workers at a GM facility in Silao, Guanajuato, were being denied labor rights, particularly the ones of freedom of association and collective bargaining. 

“Using USMCA to help protect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in Mexico helps workers both at home and in Mexico, by stopping a race to the bottom. It also supports Mexico’s efforts to implement its recent labor law reforms,” said USTR Katherine Tai at the time.

USTR’s claim comes after Mexican authorities ordered the General Motors Co union in Silao to repeat a worker vote. The request from Mexico’s authorities came in turn after US lawmakers pressured their counterparts south of the border. Later, Mexico’s Ministry of Labor found "serious irregularities" during the voting and said that it did not comply with Mexican labor law.

On Monday, Mexico’s Ministry of Labor followed up and formally notified “Miguel Trujillo López” Union for workers at GM’s plant in Silao and General Motors México that the union legitimization process carried out in April was formally nullified. After this, the union legitimization process should repeated again before August 20, ordered the Ministry. "In case the Union fails to comply, the collective contract will be taken as finished, but conserve workers’ benefits and existing working conditions."

Photo by:   Luisa Maria Alcalde
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst