Backgrounder: The labour chapter of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

Backgrounder

  • The labour chapter commits all three countries to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights, as found in the 1998 International Labour Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
  • The chapter includes a number of key provisions, namely to address violence against workers exercising their labour rights, provide protection for migrant workers and prohibit the import of goods produced by forced or compulsory labour.
  • To address labour rights violations in Mexico, particularly the use of “protection contracts” or employer-dominated collective agreements, the chapter includes an Annex on Worker Representation in Collective Bargaining in Mexico, under which Mexico commits to specific legislative actions to provide for the protection and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. This means, once implemented, Mexican workers must be afforded appropriate legal protections as afforded to workers in Canada.
  • If a partner country does not comply with the rules set out in the labour chapter, a complaint can be filed and governments can take specific action to address it, if prior attempts to resolve the matter through consultations have failed. As a last resort, trade sanctions can be imposed through the agreement’s dispute settlement chapter.
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