Written by Dina Beth Solomon
SAN LUIS POTOSI, Mexico, April 7 (Reuters) – U.S. Under Secretary of Labor Julie Sue praised Mexico for progress in implementing labor reform that is key to a new regional trade agreement, but noted that there is an “enormous” amount of work ahead and the need for funding and staffing to implement the law.
The reform, enacted in 2019, is the foundation of the Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement, the T-MEC, which took effect two years ago, and seeks to resolve labor disputes faster and help Mexican workers get better jobs after years of stagnation.
“The amount of work that needs to be done is enormous,” Su told Reuters on Wednesday in an interview in San Luis Potosi, one of Mexico’s main car enclaves in the north-central part of the country.
On her first international trip in the position, the official met workers, business leaders, and local government officials. “There is broad recognition that this will require resources to correct,” he added.
The 31 states and Mexico City are set to implement changes to their labor justice systems by May 2022, although the National Labor Secretariat has requested a five-month extension for dozens of these entities due to budget and calendar constraints.
However, Sue said Mexican authorities have made “good progress,” citing the creation of a federal agency to quickly handle labor disputes and overseeing a vote to certify union contracts.
He also noted that local and federal officials had increased hiring and training, and planned to do more. “We are … waiting for the remaining commitments to be fulfilled,” he said, calling on US companies to set an example for good behavior in Mexico.
GM faced scrutiny from USMCA mechanisms last year for labor rights abuses, as did Cardone, in his case over allegations of abuse at the Tridonex auto parts plant. Both companies promised to respect workers’ rights.
“We hope that there will be leadership from American companies as well to support USMCA commitments and to help create a culture where there is broader recognition that what is good for workers is good for business,” the undersecretary said.
Several employees of a San Luis Potosi factory belonging to industrial giant 3M, in a meeting with Su, asked his team to continue monitoring US companies in Mexico, especially now that a group of workers from that company has begun the task of forming an independent company. union.
The official responded: “We recognize the importance of monitoring to ensure that the promises in the laws, the promises in the T-MEC (…) are actually being implemented.”
3M said it is committed to providing a safe work environment with competitive wages and respects workers’ right to organize.
(Reporting by Dina Beth Solomon; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Raul Curtis Fernandez)