Canadian observers needed to oversee union vote at Mexican truck plant

TORONTO, May 14, 2021 /CNW/ – Unifor is urging the federal government to send Canadian observers to oversee the upcoming…

TORONTO, May 14, 2021 /CNW/ – Unifor is urging the federal government to send Canadian observers to oversee the upcoming union vote at the General Motors (GM) plant in Silao, Mexico.

«This vote is a flashpoint in the fight for workers’ rights in Mexico and North America,» said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who served as an advisor to the Canadian team that negotiated new labour provisions in the CUSMA trade agreement, aimed at upholding fundamental worker rights in Mexico.

Thousands of General Motors autoworkers at the Mexican truck plant are preparing to re-do a union certification vote marred by corruption and alleged criminal interference by their current union.

Reports out of Mexico in recent weeks highlight allegations of illegal vote tampering, ballot destruction and worker intimidation by the CTM union, halting a long-awaited ratification vote for roughly 6,000 workers at GM’s truck plant in Central Mexico. 

Under newly introduced Mexican labour law, further enforced by strict provisions in the CanadaUnited StatesMexico (CUSMA) trade agreement, all unions in Mexico must validate their certification through secret ballot votes over the span of 4 years. 

Mexican authorities are requiring GM Silao to hold a second vote no later than June 10, along with a criminal investigation into the actions of the CTM. Unifor believes the Canadian government must step in to provide additional supports to ensure a free and fair vote.

«Offering to send a delegation of expert observers, including trade union leaders, is a sign of good faith to the Mexican government, and Mexican autoworkers, letting them know that Canada stands by the principles of free collective bargaining,» Dias said.  «Unifor stands ready to assist with this.» 

In a May 5 letter to Mexican Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and General Motors President Mark Reuss, Dias condemned the actions of the CTM union, widely criticized as an illegitimate union with no democratic mandates from the workers it claims to represent.

The practice of illegitimate or so-called ‘yellow’ unions is to negotiate agreements favourable to employers, driving down pay and lowering labour standards, creating an uneven playing field for Canadian workers.

In the letter, Dias referred to the alleged actions of the CTM as «abhorrent» representing «the worst forms of worker exploitation.»

«(The accused activities) constitute illegal activity, a breach of the fundamental tenets of union democracy and international labour standards, and a violation of the terms of the CanadaUnited StatesMexico (CUSMA) trade agreement,» Dias wrote.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.