Mexico Signals Worker Rights Complaints Against the USBy María Fernanda Barría | Fri, 05/14/2021 - 13:49
Mexico has expressed concerns to US officials regarding migrant worker rights in the agribusiness sector. Both countries have appealed to legal channels to enforce the new USMCA treaty.
Mexico's Ambassador to the US, Esteban Moctezuma Barragan, sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh to communicate concerns regarding the lack of labor enforcement laws in the agricultural and protein processing and packaging industries. According to Mexico´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lack of awareness, abusive conditions, and fear are some of the factors that do not allow workers to fight for their rights. The situation has caused tensions, since the US federal labor law protect all workers, regardless of their immigration status.
Mexico's government proposed a space for cooperation within the framework of the USMCA to identify actions to solve and guarantee the enforcement of labor laws.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the situation is two-sided. "It is reciprocal. Just as they can file complaints about the situation of their workers in our country, we can also file complaints if there is a violation of our workers' rights in the US," reported El Economista. The Ministry of Foreign affairs also indicated that the US has failed to solve delicate situations such as the oversight to pay wages, the lack of federal regulations regarding occupational heat stress and the inability to provide safety protocols against COVID-19.
The situation emerges a few days after US´ Trade Representative Katherine Tai asked the Mexican government to review a lawsuit filed by General Motors workers. As a result of this case, the US started a complaint under the "Rapid Response Mechanism" against General Motors plant located in Silao, Guanajuato, for alleged violations of workers' rights, reported El Economista. General Motors claims that it will cooperate with both countries, but the company did not acknowledge the alleged labor violations. The situation occurred several weeks after the company announced a crucial investment in the automotive industry. As previously reported by MBN, the company seeks to start producing batteries and electrical components during 2Q21 and has already committed more than MX$1,000 million in investments to begin making electric vehicles in the Ramos Arizpe Coahuila plant by 2023.