Mexican authorities have ordered the General Motors (GM) Co-Unit in the city of Silao to repeal the workers’ vote following pressure from U.S. legislators over allegations that automakers may be violating a new trade agreement.
Mexico’s labor ministry said Tuesday it found “serious irregularities” in last month’s vote, which is necessary under Mexican labor reform to ensure workers are not bound by contracts signed behind their backs and keep wages low.
The vote is part of a broader effort to secure workers’ rights as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or a new free trade agreement replacing NAFTA.
Just as U.S. workers and politicians began to apply new powers to enforce labor standards south of the border included in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), concerns have been raised about GMK amid allegations of abuse in the Mexican workplace.
The largest U.S. labor federation, AFL-CIO, on Monday called on the U.S. government to file a complaint under the USMCA against a car parts plant called Tridonex in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, where workers are barred from choosing an independent union. .
In the case of GM, several ballots were destroyed during the union-led vote, Mexico’s labor ministry said. It further said that the union, which is part of the Strong Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), refused to provide labor inspectors with voting documents.
U.S. envoys Dan Kildi, Bill Paskrel and Earl Blumenaur, all Democrats, asked GM to answer questions about possible objections.
They said in a letter to GM Chief Executive Mary Barra that the largest U.S. carmaker, Silao, has a responsibility to speak out against labor and human rights violations at the GM plant.
The legislators also cited news agencies that show GM officials removed individual inspectors, among other horrific tactics aimed at employees.
The GM denied any wrongdoing and said government-sanctioned inspectors were not barred from entering the polling station. It further said that it condemned labor rights violations and hired a third party to review the matter.
The ministry said the “protection and assurance policy had been violated” after the initial vote, and that the GM union must take a new vote within 30 days.
Hugo Varela, head of the CTM in the state of Guanajuato, where the silao plant is located, did not respond to a request for comment on the labor ministry’s order. He had previously said that the CTM was committed to complying with the law and keeping jobs in Mexico.
A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office declined to comment on GM.
The rights of jewelry workers
Just days before the controversial vote, which employs nearly 1,000,000 people in Silao, GM said it would invest ১ 1 billion in an electric vehicle manufacturing complex in Mexico, prompting criticism from United Auto Workers.
UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg separately told Reuters this week that the Mexican vote was “a matter of concern and appropriate.”
Also, the Geneva-based industry global union and Toronto-based Unifor wrote in a letter to GM President Mark Reus last week that the incident violated the USMCA and called on GM to protect workers.
UNIFOR President Jerry Dias has expressed his “outrage” over the situation and said he would explore “all available ways” to maintain workers’ rights in Mexico, including with the USMCA.
The Biden administration is prioritizing the implementation of existing commitments in trade agreements by U.S. partners. Democrats and American trade unions created strong labor rules and enforcement in Mexico, a key claim to win their support for the US-Mexico-Canada agreement, which went into effect in July. They expressed concern that the USMCA replacement agreement lacked these provisions.