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Canadian Agency Upholds
Unions in Echlin Case

OTTAWA, Ontario

UE members take a stand for labor rights ...
UE members backed the right to organize in March 1998 as the U.S. government held a hearing on a complaint brought by UE and other unions that charged the Mexican government and Echlin manage-ment of violating the rights of workers at Echlin’s ITAPSA plant. The U.S. government upheld that complaint in August of last year; last month the Canadian govern-ment issued a similar finding.

The Canadian agency that administers the NAFTA labor side agreement issued a report on Dec. 15 charging the Mexican government with failing to enforce its own laws and regulations when workers at the U.S.-owned ITAPSA automotive plant tried to organize an independent union.

The decision by Canada’s National Administrative Office sets the stage for consultation between Mexican and Canadian Labor Ministers aimed at protecting workers’ rights in Mexico.

Canada’s first labor rights complaint under the NAFTA side agreement was filed by the Canadian Steelworkers with the support of other members of the trinational Echlin/Dana Workers Alliance, including UE. UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark was the only U.S. speaker in testimony before the Canadian NAO on Sept. 14.


The Canadian case parallels the case filed with the U.S. NAO by UE and the Dana Workers Alliance last year. In August, the U.S. NAO ruled that the Mexican government failed to enforce its own laws protecting worker rights and agreed with the unions that Echlin management allowed thugs from a government-controlled union to disrupt a vote for an independent union in September 1997. (The ITAPSA plant was owned by Echlin Inc.; the Dana Corp. purchased Echlin in July 1998.)

As a result of the U.S. NAO decision, consultations between the U.S. and Mexican governments have been initiated in the US case, with no outcome expected for several months.

The Canadian NAO decision calls for discussions between Canadian Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw and her Mexican counterpart on the neutrality of Mexico’s labor tribunals and procedural guarantees for unions appearing before it. As well, the labor ministers must review balloting procedures at votes to determine which union is to represent workers, so that workers’ freedom of association rights are protected.

Access for workers to the contents of their collective agreements, and to the bylaws of unions representing them, will also be the subject of discussions between the labor ministers, according to the recommendation.

UE News - 01/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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