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North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Labour activists from Canada and Mexico on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement are ongoing with speculation that an agreement in principle could come shortly. Unifor continues to make its voice heard.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias is attending each round of the talks as a member of the stakeholders group offering advice to the Canadian negotiators. Dias also continues to meet with labour leaders from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico as the talks move between the three countries.

Unifor has warned that Canada should not rush into a deal in principle, with the details to be sorted out later, just to appease the political agendas of Mexico and the U.S.

In March, 2018 Unifor and Mexican labour leaders joined together to warn Members of Parliament about the dangers of renegotiating a NAFTA deal that fails to protect workers in both countries.

The Unifor led delegation of Mexican labour leaders lobbied in Ottawa March 26-29, meeting with Members of Parliament and representatives of the Standing Committee on International Trade, including NDP Trade Critic and Unifor member Tracey Ramsey, along with members of Canada’s NAFTA Labour negotiating team. 

Unifor has consistently maintained that labour conditions in Mexico must be addressed in any new NAFTA deal. During Round Six of negotiations in Montreal in January the union held A March for a Better NAFTA where hundreds of Unifor members from Ontario and Quebec rallied.  

In November, 2017 Dias made headlines in Canada and Mexico when he visited a Canadian-controlled mine in Mexico where two striking workers were killed on the picket line just days before. Unifor also held a rally outside the Toronto offices of Torex Gold Resources Inc. in support of the strikers. The moves were part of Unifor’s approach to the NAFTA talks, stressing that any renewed deal must help workers in all three countries in the deal.

During Round Three talks in September, 2017 in Ottawa Unifor was also front and centre as members marched past Parliament Hill in a powerful show of solidarity.

NAFTA History:

The NAFTA renegotiation, begun after US President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 saying that NAFTA has been unfair for American workers, particularly in manufacturing.

This gives us a once in a generation opportunity to fix fundamental flaws with NAFTA. Unions have warned since the deal between Canada, the United States and Mexico came into effect in 1994 that it would hurt working people in all three countries. In the decades since, we have been proven right.