Labor sources: Mexican Senate bill could undermine new NAFTA standards

March 29, 2018

Mexico's ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, last week pitched a proposal that would implement the country's constitutional labor reforms passed last year in a way that labor advocates believe would undermine labor rules that will potentially be included in a retooled North American Free Trade Agreement.

[Isabelle Hoagland | March 27, 2018 | Inside US Trade]

The bill, introduced by PRI on March 22, claims to implement constitutional labor reforms that were adopted by the Mexican government in February 2017. The proposed law would retain the non-independent structure of labor arbitration boards and would not prevent the implementation of so-called “protection contracts,” labor sources told Inside U.S. Trade. Those contracts are collective agreements signed between an employer and a union without the consent of the workers.

The key accomplishment of the constitutional labor reforms is that it would abolish the tripartite structure of the conciliation and arbitration boards (CABs) which, according to one U.S. labor source, are non-transparent labor dispute systems composed of three board members “without the best interests of the unions in mind.” The board members include a representative of the employer, the government and a union. However, the source said the unions represented on the CABs are “not independent unions at all” and usually are represented by corporate interests.

The constitutional labor reforms Mexico adopted last year would eliminate so-called tripartite conciliation and arbitration boards (CABs) and help prevent the implementation of protection contracts, labor sources have said. The constitutional reforms require secondary legislation to be fully implemented.

However, the source said the March 22 bill, if passed, would allow Mexico to implement the labor reforms in a way that would run afoul with the labor standards that negotiators are working on in a revised NAFTA by violating language referencing the International Labor Organization Declaration that has been included in recent U.S. FTAs.

“If this implementing legislation passes, it will create a system of labor justice in Mexico that undermines rather than protects workers' rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining,” the source said, adding that the legislation would reinstate Mexico's “corrupt labor justice system.”

Read more at Inside US Trade

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