Chapter 23 of the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (USMCA), related to the labor issue, can serve to guarantee the rights of migrants, since it has clear objectives that seek to protect them.
But “unfortunately” it does not promote a circularity of work that could help the economic recovery of the region, said Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, legal consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
When participating in a seminar at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), Celorio explained that the T-MEC reaffirms commitments assumed by Mexico at the international level, reiterates the domestic legal environment for the protection of employees, promotes transparency in the execution of legislation of the three countries and combat workplace violence (an aspect that was of the “greatest urgency” to include in a binding manner in the Treaty.
Mexico also undertakes in the USMCA to comply with its own labor laws).
In addition, it includes the prohibition of child and forced labor, and also that related to the protection of migrants, an issue “very important because it is not exclusive to day laborers from the countries that are part of the agreement, but rather it recognizes the potential of those who they come from other regions beyond these three nations”.
In this sense, it is very relevant not only for the United States, where more than 11 million people of foreign nationality live as undocumented immigrants, but also for Mexico and Canada, which also have populations of migrant workers.
On the issue of dispute resolution, the chapter contains a rapid response mechanism regarding the rights of free unionization or transparency in the way in which collective contracts are negotiated.
The mechanism is too short to address “something urgent, which are labor rights in the three countries”, since “it only focuses on a very clear issue which is freedom of association, unionization and transparency.”
Celorio stressed that in this context it is urgent to recognize the work of foreigners, especially in the United States, where 16% of the economically active population is migrant.
The agricultural sector generates more wealth from its exports “and that is why we are studying at the Foreign Ministry if we can argue that there is social dumping”, because an undocumented person can earn 50 cents for a bucket of tomatoes and the kilo will be sold in up to five Dollars; In addition, it does not enjoy social security or sanitary conditions, because it is exposed to pesticides and sunstroke, since the law is not followed to provide shade and water and since they are irregular immigrants, if they complain, they are fired.
If there is a legal path for US employers to take over labor, this should be reflected in an increase in temporary work visas; However, “our surprise is that in fiscal year 2020 only 200 thousand Mexicans obtained it, followed by Guatemalans with two thousand visas in one year, which means that barely a quarter of a million people went to that nation to work, when there are –And the number of undocumented people shows it– a great job offer and a need for economic recovery”.