WASHINGTON / MEXICO CITY, July 8 (Reuters) – The United States and Mexico agreed on Thursday that a new union vote will take place at the General Motors (GM.N) plant in Silao by August 20, a indicated the office of the US representative) and the Mexican Ministry of Economy said.
The two countries issued a joint statement that Mexico agreed to a number of guarantees ahead of the vote, including the presence of Mexican federal inspectors and impartial international observers from the International Labor Organization at the facility prior to the vote. vote. Mexico said in May it would review labor practices at the GM plant in central Mexico after a formal complaint from the USTR.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement that the agreement with Mexico would allow workers to vote on whether or not to approve their collective agreement under “free and democratic terms.” She praised Mexico “for taking swift action when it recognized that workers’ rights were being violated.”
Last month, Mexico sent a letter that officially launched a joint negotiation to resolve the US complaint.
Workers voted in April on whether to keep their current contract, however, midway through Mexican officials detected “serious irregularities” including destroyed ballots and overturned the vote.
The findings prompted the United States to ask Mexico to review the case for possible rights violations under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Mexico has agreed to “investigate and, where appropriate, sanction anyone responsible for the conduct that led to the suspension of the April vote and any other violation of the law related to that vote … or in connection with it. the August vote â.
The announcement came after 10 days of intense negotiations between the United States and Mexico, a senior US official told Reuters.
Mexico’s Ministry of Labor said in June that the factory’s union, which employs around 6,000 people in the central city of Silao, must hold a new vote before August 20 or lose the contract altogether.
GM said in a statement that it was satisfied with the agreement between the United States and Mexico “to support a free and fair vote in August. We look forward to continuing to work with representatives of the United States and Mexican governments to supporting the common goal of protecting workers’ rights. “
The USTR said GM will issue a neutrality statement ahead of the vote and adopt a zero tolerance policy on retaliation.
The US official confirmed that the contract would be terminated if the vote did not take place by August 20. The Labor Ministry will oversee the vote, ensure the safety of ballots and the voting area, the official added, saying there will be more than five times as many Mexican federal inspectors as the previous vote.
Labor remedies under the USMCA include revocation of duty-free access for infringing plant goods.
In GM’s case, that could mean applying a 25% US pickup import tariff on trucks manufactured by Silao, a move that could add thousands of dollars to the cost of each vehicle.
The so-called request for review marks the first use of the USMCA Labor Rapid Response Mechanism, which allows countries to target labor rights violations at specific factories.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Leslie Adler and Diane Craft
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