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SNITIS to File Labor Complaint Against BBB Automotive Plant

By Rodrigo Andrade | Tue, 08/02/2022 - 11:14

A Mexican union will file a labor complaint against the manufacturing company BBB Industry for alleged violations of workers’ rights. The National Independent Union of Industrial and Service Workers (SNITIS) said it will submit the complaint in the US citing alleged intimidation and threats to its employees, among other irregularities, during a contract vote by union members last month, as reported by Reuters.

The complaint would be only the latest filed with US labor authorities since last year. Labor rights challenges have been more frequent since the implementation of the Rapid Labor Response Mechanism created by the USMCA. “The Facility Specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (FRRLM)1 is an unprecedented dispute resolution procedure in trade agreements. Its purpose is to reinforce compliance with the labor commitments assumed in the Mexico-U.S.-Canada Agreement (T-MEC),” said  Mexico’s Ministry of Labor, as reported by MBN.

Since the entry into force of the USMCA in 2020, the Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) has lost several elections to its independent counterparts, which have reported alleged irregularities during some union elections and presented complaints to US labor authorities. Mexican authorities have complained that the USMCA mechanism has not given time for the country to properly adapt to new workplace reforms.

CTM, which has the current contract with the automotive company, has not made comments regarding the complaint. SNITIS reported various flaws such as the vote tally exceeding the number of workers, ballots not being numbered, no presence of neutral observers and workers not receiving copies of their contract until voting day. SNITIS also alleges that company representatives pressured workers to vote in favor of the contract to avoid losing their benefits.

USMCA has triggered several labor complaints from the US government, which alleges that some businesses operating in Mexico have not respected freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. The agreement introduced new industry challenges that have led CTM to lose its grip in the automotive sector. “The changes in the new treaty focus on a concept that for most companies in Mexico is difficult. However, for those that have already experienced a trade union environment, it is easier: the democratization of labor relations,” stated during Mexico Talent Forum 2021 Luis Monsalvo.

Other independent unions are also revamping collective bargaining agreements. The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of the Automotive, Auto parts, Aerospace and Tire Industries (FESIIAAAN) is setting a deadline on May 1, 2023, for the legitimization of its collective bargaining agreement under the new provisions created by the USMCA.

Workplace models have been shifting in Mexico due to the USMCA and the Labor Reform. However, there is still a long way to go, said expert researcher Graciela Bensusán, while highlighting that the reform is necessary to improve the country’s “100 years of bad practices and cultural [issues],” as reported by MBN.

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Rodrigo Andrade Rodrigo Andrade Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst