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Worker Rights under CUSMA

Globalization is under reform with special attention on the social/ worker rights dimension. A very recent development under the new Free Trade Agreement in North America ( known in Canada by its acronym , CUSMA) is a case in point. The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism ( RRLM) contained in CUSMA represents a novel method for addressing worker rights in North America . The RRLM provides for civil society , such as trade unions and NGOs , to file a complaint in respect of any facility where denial of worker rights ( such as freedom of association and the right to effective collective bargaining ) is suspected .

A complaint was filed in early May 2021 , by American and Mexican trade unions, in respect of a General Motors auto facility in Silao, Mexico. The complaint centred on the circumstances surrounding a vote that took place in April 2021 for a new collective bargaining agreement at that facility.

The filing of that complaint triggered a request by the US government that Mexico investigate and respond to the concerns raised in the complaint.

The US and Mexican governments , following the review of the circumstances surrounding the original vote at the GM facility , concluded a Remediation Plan on July 8, 2021.

The Remediation Plan includes : (1) the presence at the facility of Mexican federal inspectors , and impartial domestic and international observers , leading up to a new vote of workers to take place on August 20 , 2021; (2) the investigation, with sanctions where appropriate , of any violation of worker rights connected with the tainted original vote in April 2021; and (3) the creation by the Mexican government of a hotline to receive and respond to any worker complaints surrounding the upcoming August 20, 2021 vote .

The original NAFTA ( 1994-2020) was devoid of these worker protection features found in CUSMA.


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