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Labor justice in Mexico: the US will supervise the last stage

The United States government stressed that it will maintain supervision of the last stage of implementation of the new labor justice system in Mexico.

A description of this action was included in a recent US Trade Representative (USTR) report.

The USMCA includes an Annex to the Labor Chapter that requires Mexico to review its labor justice system to ensure that workers have the right to secret ballots to elect and challenge union leadership and approve or reject new and existing collective agreements.

Mexico enacted these labor law reforms in 2019 and instituted a phased approach to start the operation of a new Federal Labor Registration and Conciliation Center and labor courts throughout the country.

The first phase of implementation began in 2020, with eight Mexican states transitioning labor justice issues to the new institutions.

In 2021, during a second phase, another 13 Mexican states transitioned to the new institutions.

The third phase, during which the remaining 11 states will transition, is scheduled for 2022.

Throughout 2021, the United States government continued to consult closely with the Mexican government on the implementation of reforms to ensure compliance with Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA, including through the Inter-institutional Labor Monitoring Committee. and Supervision (Interinstitutional Labor Committee).

Labor justice

The Interagency Labor Committee, co-chaired by the United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor, was established in April 2020 and met regularly in 2021 to review labor rights issues in Mexico and prepare reports for the United States Congress.

The USMCA Implementation Law allocates 30 million dollars over four years for the USTR to support the monitoring of compliance with labor obligations, including through the Inter-institutional Labor Committee.

These resources supported the hiring of three additional employees in the USTR Labor Affairs Office during 2021 and the appointment of a total of five attorneys to cover USMCA labor matters in the Office of the General Counsel.

In addition, the USTR selected a Principal United States Trade Representative in Mexico, a new position intended to support the coordination of USMCA labor and environmental issues in Mexico, as well as other USMCA implementation issues.

The officer works closely with the Labor Attachés of the United States Department of Labor and the Labor Counselor of the Department of State.

Budget

The US Congress included $180 million over four years in USMCA implementing legislation for technical assistance projects related to the agreement and $30 million to pay labor attaches and other personnel to monitor Mexico’s compliance in the USMCA framework.

The goals of recent assistance have been to ensure compliance with Mexican labor laws and legitimate collective bargaining rights; increase measures to mitigate Covid-19 among workers; and address child labor and forced labor in Mexico’s supply chains, including in agriculture.

In mid-December 2020, the United States Department of Labor announced two new grants, totaling $20 million, that will help Mexico meet its labor obligations under the USMCA.

The announced grants bring the total pledged for this purpose by the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) to nearly $50 million.

 

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