Unifor and Mexican labour leaders join in NAFTA lobby


OTTAWA – Unifor and Mexican labour leaders join together this week to warn MPs about the dangers of negotiating a NAFTA deal that fails to protect workers in both countries.

“The old NAFTA model was built on exploitation, as Canadian manufacturing jobs migrated to Mexico where multinationals are permitted to pay workers poverty wages,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “If a new NAFTA does not address low wages and labour rights in Mexico then both Canadian and Mexican workers will continue to pay the price.”

Unifor, leading a delegation of Mexican labour leaders, is in Ottawa March 26-29 to meet with Members of Parliament, representatives of the Standing Committee on International Trade and members of Canada’s NAFTA Labour negotiating team.  Unifor National President Jerry Dias will also host the “NAFTA: A Worker’s View” Roundtable on March 28.

“Of the NAFTA countries Mexico has been the most negatively impacted,” said Mónica Jiménez Acosta, representing the Mexicano de Electricistas (electricians) union. “Our currency and purchasing power has decreased, our quality of life has decreased and rights have been taken from us that took years to achieve.”

The delegation brings a list of Mexican worker demands for the renegotiation of NAFTA ahead of the next round of talks, expected to take place in Washington D.C. next month.  The list of is also available in Spanish.

“We are calling on your help as Mexico’s voice is only listened to when international voices are raised up,” said Telephonists Union Foreign Relations Representative Maria del Carmen llamas Montes.

The Unifor led delegation will call for wage adjustments and enforcement of labour regulations to give workers the freedom to organize and defend the collective bargaining process.

“It is possible to have international agreements that protect and enshrine workers’ rights,” said José Olvera, Chairperson of International Relations, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (university union).

For more information on Unifor’s NAFTA campaign, go to unifor.org/NAFTA