The U.S. Department of Labor says its National Administrative Office (NAO)
will review allegations that the government of Mexico failed to enforce
its law protecting the rights of workers at two Mexican garment factories.
"Effective enforcement of labor laws is fundamental to the labor principles
to which the U.S., Canada and Mexico are committed under the North American
Agreement on Labor Cooperation," said NAO Acting Director Lewis Karesh.
"To this end, the Labor Department intends to conduct a thorough review."
The DOL says the submission was filed under the North American Agreement on
Labor Cooperation, the labor side agreement of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA), which is the negotiated agreement between the U.S., Canada
and Mexico that deals with the enforcement of each country's labor laws
and improving working conditions and living standards for workers.
In the submission designated as 2003-01, the submitters allege that the Mexican
government failed to enforce its labor laws concerning freedom of association
and protection of the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Additional allegations involve the right to access to fair, equitable and transparent
labor tribunal proceedings, minimum employment standards, including minimum
wage and overtime pay, and criticism of Mexico's enforcement of occupational
safety and health standards, according to the DOL.
The submission was filed by the United Students Against Sweat Shops and Centro
de Apoyo al Trabajador. This is the fifteenth submission against Mexico that
has been filed with the NAO under the labor side agreement--the majority
of which involved issues of freedom of association. The submission was also
filed with the government of Canada.
According to the DOL, the NAO has up to 180 days to review the case and issue
a public report under its procedural guidelines.