New Mexican Labor Justice System, an Achievement of the USMCABy Anamary Olivas | Tue, 08/02/2022 - 09:55
One of the most important achievements of the Trade Agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC) in terms of labor rights is the creation of a completely new labor justice system in Mexico as part of the labor reform, according to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs of the United States Department of Labor, Thea Lee.
That agency (USDOL, for its acronym in English) published the reflections of the Deputy Assistant Secretary regarding the commemoration of the entry into force of the trinational agreement, on July 1st, 2020.
“As part of the T-MEC, Mexico agreed to approve and implement a comprehensive labor reform bill that included a complete transformation of the institutions where workers report violations of their rights,” she said. In the negotiations of the new treaty, one of the conditions that was placed on the Mexican government, at that time governed by Enrique Peña Nieto's administration, was the protection of labor rights and freedom of association.
Dissident trade union organizations, labor organizations and workers' movements in the country had spent decades demanding legal reforms to democratize unions and improve the labor justice system. In 2017, the labor reform began. The Congress modified the Constitution to establish, among other points, that the vote in the unions must be personal, free, direct, and secret. It also gave guidelines so that the federal and local conciliation centers were the only instance that could be resorted to seeking agreements or justice.
However, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), one of the largest and oldest labor unions in the country, saw it from the beginning as an interference from the United States. According to what Ángel Celorio Guevara, National Legal Coordinator of the CTM, told El Economista, during Donald Trump's administration a movement arose for capital to stay in the United States and prevent it from coming to Mexico, and it was pointed out that Mexican unions do not protect their workers.
Until 2019, in the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Congress reformed the Federal Labor Law (LFT) to regulate and conclude the process that began with the constitutional reform of 2017. One of the changes is that the conciliation and arbitration boards will stop receiving new matters and will continue in force until they finish unburdening the matters they had. The resolution of the new labor conflicts will be processed in conciliation centers and, if the parties do not reach an agreement, the cases will go to labor courts of the Judicial Power, which did not exist.