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February 09, 2004
DOL Investigating Mexican Government

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.

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"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.

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