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Visit to Canada strengthens ties among Mexican activists

July 19, 2023
Image: Seen from above, a group of 10 people, all wearing orange hardhats (except one woman in a white hardhat), black coveralls and orange safety vests and yellow gloves are looking towards the camera while touring an industrial workplace

Labour activists from Mexican unions and workers’ rights organizations were in Toronto to speak at the USW National Policy Conference in April.

The visit was part of the Mexico Labour Solidarity Project, established to support long-overdue labour reforms in Mexico. These reforms are possible thanks to labour provisions in the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and to a progressive Mexican government that includes labour hero Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the Los Mineros union’s General Secretary who also serves as a federal Senator.

Now there are teeth to enforce Mexico’s labour laws. Reforms allow workers to vote for a real union through a guaranteed secret ballot instead of a corrupt system of company-controlled unions that was in place for over 80 years.

“Think of what it meant for workers who didn’t even know they had rights? Now the workers are at the centre,” said Rosalba Calva Flores, Co-ordinator with the Frente Autentico del Trabajo (Authentic Workers’ Front, or FAT), speaking on a panel at the USW National Policy Conference.

Following the conference, the delegation, including representatives from Los Mineros, the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras (Border Workers’ Committee), the FAT and the Red de Mujeres Sindicalistas (Women’s Trade Union Network) travelled to Ottawa and Quebec for meetings and workplace visits.

As a side benefit of their time in Canada, the project partners deepened their ties, and developed further sharing and team-building plans to work on union organizing and worker education.

Why should workers in Canada care about improving conditions for Mexican workers? “We have to close the gap on inequality. In the long run, we’ll be helping workers in Canada,” said Julia Quiñonez, Executive Director of the Border Workers’ Committee. “If we improve the conditions in Mexico – it improves stability for all workers.”

This article appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of USW@Work magazine.

USW@Work magazine Summer 2023

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