In a show of trilateral solidarity unions from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada met today in Mexico City to share strategies on raising labour conditions for workers in the NAFTA countries.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that workers have an equal standard of living in all three countries,” National President Jerry Dias told the labour leaders. “There is a lot of work ahead of us. Unifor is here to find out what we can do to help so we can move forward as a progressive trade movement.”
As Round 7 of NAFTA renegotiations continue in Mexico City the unions agreed on a Trilateral Declaration with a commitment to build a common agenda to defend the interests of workers.
“Clear and binding labour standards should be established to improve the conditions of the working class in the three countries though effective legislation that increases the purchasing power of wages, allows access to full employment with dignified conditions, and promotes freedom and union democracy,” states the Declaration.
“The current NAFTA was never designed to be either free or fair. It’s has always been about the lowest wage and oppressing the most workers,” said Peter Knowlton, General President of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE). “I am really encouraged by the work that unions in Canada have been doing in terms of pushing NAFTA towards including workers’ rights.”
Unifor representation included Assistant to the National President Scott Doherty, Director of Human Right and International Mohamad Alsadi and Quebec Director Renaud Gagné.
“It is clear that the North American labour movement has a common vision and a shared commitment to fight for strong labour standards in NAFTA,” said Gagné.
At the meeting Mexican mining union Los Mineros publicly thanked Unifor for everything the union has done on behalf of the workers of Mexico.
“We appreciate and acknowledge the support of international unions that understand the struggle of Mexican workers,” said Los Mineros representative Isidro Mendez Martinez. “As members of a union, of democratic independent organizations, we can make it if we stand together.”
During this round of NAFTA talks Unifor also issued a call for union unity against announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the United States. In a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Dias condemned the American labour federation’s pro-tariff stance, pointing out that it will hurt members of the union’s Canadian affiliates.
Unifor will continue to build international solidarity when it joins forces with members of independent Mexican unions to lobby Canadian MPs on the NAFTA labour chapter in Ottawa at the end of March.