Rush NAFTA deal at workers peril


TORONTO – Amid hurried negotiations to meet an artificial deadline Unifor warns that a rushed North American Free Trade Agreement will put workers in peril.

“Canada must not be pushed into a hasty NAFTA deal that will impact workers and jobs for a generation to come,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “There is no reason to sign on to half-baked trade policies simply to meet foreign political agendas.” 

Reports that a deal “in principle” could be announced as early as this week raise serious concerns as key planks of the new NAFTA have yet to be negotiated.

“It defies logic to commit without knowing the ramification on auto and other major industries,” said Dias. “Multiple proposals on rules of origin are being floated so an agreement in principle right now is tantamount to signing a blank cheque.”

Unifor has assumed an active advisory role to Canadian negotiators with National President Jerry Dias in attendance for each round of NAFTA talks.

“This is the opportunity to fix the mistakes of past trade agreements so it’s imperative that Canada takes the time to get it right,” said Dias. “The labour chapter is still outstanding. If a new NAFTA continues to allow Mexican workers to be paid a fraction of what their Canadian and American counterparts make then the agreement won’t be worth the paper it’s signed on.”

Unifor has been a strong advocate for labour reform in Mexico, leading a delegation of Mexican labour leaders to lobby Canadian MPs in Ottawa last month. The union also sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland to express opposition to regressive amendments to Mexico’s labour law, which are expected to be voted on this week.

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