Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

October 27, 2011 09:48 ET

Canadian Unions Assist Mexican Workers With NAFTA Challenge: Electrical Workers Persecuted by Mexican Government

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 27, 2011) - Today the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the United Steelworkers (USW) will accompany the Mexican electrical workers union (the SME) in submitting a complaint to the authority that administers the labour side deal of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"The Mexican government used soldiers in 2009 to invade and shut down the Mexico City Electrical Generation plant," says Hassan Yussuff, CLC Secretary-treasurer. "They terminated 44,000 workers, eliminated their collective agreement, and harassed and intimidated them and their union. This was a blatant violation of the NAFTA agreement, not to mention Mexico's labour laws and the country's constitution."

Yussuff will accompany Martin Esparza and Jose Humberto, leaders of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), who are in Ottawa to submit the complaint.

The Mexican union, along with the CLC, the United Steelworkers and more than 80 other unions and non-government organizations, is officially submitting the complaint to the National Administrative Office (NAO) of Canada under the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC).

"We have had a free trade deal with Mexico for almost 18 years and it is accompanied by a side deal on labour rights," says Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada. "The Mexican government has failed to enforce basic labour rights enshrined in the NAALC, and in other international treaties, and is using delay tactics to prevent justice from being done. The Mexican government continues to abuse its own citizens by ignoring the agreement it signed to protect labour rights. This challenge must be met with real action."

Yussuff adds, "This complaint is a true test of whether the NAFTA agreement on labour cooperation is effective in safeguarding the right to freedom of association. As it is, the labour agreement is flawed and must be fixed."

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour.

Contact Information

  • Dennis Gruending
    CLC Communications
    613-526-7431 or Mobile/text: 613-878-6040

    Pat Van Horne
    USW Legislative Representative
    613-731-6315 or Mobile/text: 613-859-1763