NUPGE provides support to Mexican workers with NAFTA challenge

Electrical workers persecuted by Mexican government.

Ottawa (27 Oct. 2011) – The 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), along with the Canadian Labour Congress and more than 80 other unions and non-government organizations in Canada, will file a formal complaint today against the government of Mexico.

The complaint will be filed under the North American Agreement for Labour Cooperation (NAALC), the labour side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The complaint is in support of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) and their struggle to obtain justice for their 44,000 members who were fired when the Mexican government shut down the big electrical generation plant in Mexico City in 2009.

The Mexican government used soldiers in 2009 to invade and shut down the Mexico City Electrical Generation plant. It terminated the 44,000 SME members, eliminated their collective agreement and harassed and intimidated their union. The government’s actions were a blatant violation of the NAFTA agreement, not to mention Mexico’s labour laws and the country’s constitution.

 Larry Brown, NUPGE's National Secretary-Treasurer, met with two of the SME leaders, Martin Esparza, Secretary General, and Jose Humberto Montes de Oca, International Affairs Secretary. Brown discussed with them ways in which NUPGE can help to raise awareness here in Canada and internationally regarding the SME’s struggle for justice on behalf of its members.

The NAALC complaint alleges that the Mexican government failed to enforce basic labour rights enshrined in the NAALC, and in other international treaties, and is using delay tactics to prevent justice from being done. It maintains that the Mexican government continues to abuse its own citizens by ignoring the agreement it signed to protect labour rights.

“It is deeply troubling that Mexico is so willfully violating labour rights,” said Brown.

“The Canadian government must seek to ensure its fellow NAFTA members honour their commitments and the rule of law. We have been promised that NAFTA has some labour rights built in, and this will be a real test as to whether the reality matches the promises. If NAFTA cannot have any impact on such flagrant abuses of workers, it has no effective labour protection at all.”

“The government of Mexico is trampling on NAFTA labour standards which Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are obliged to respect and uphold,” added Brown.

“The Canadian government can’t turn a blind eye to such flagrant abuses. Canada must respond vigorously and at the highest levels.”


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE


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