EconomyAfter 8 years, this Coahuila plant is about to...

After 8 years, this Coahuila plant is about to resolve a labor conflict under the rules of the T-MEC

A unit in Mexico of the car manufacturer Stellantis hopes to resolve a US government complaint filed under the terms of the T-MEC in a few days, the company said after approving the entry of an independent union, a decision that workers attributed to pressure from Washington. .

Teskid Hierro de México, owned by Stellantis STLA.MI, said the complaint regarding possible rights abuses at an auto parts plant in Coahuila is close to being resolved without the need to go to a dispute panel.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is negotiating a remediation plan with the Government of Mexico on the issue under the terms of the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada, in force since 2020, and will provide more information in the coming days, a spokesman for the office said in response to questions from Reuters.

Since 2014, workers at the plant have accused Teskid of colluding with the powerful CTM union to block their election of an independent union, Los Mineros, and closing the case under the USMCA terms would mark the end of one of the longest labor conflicts in Mexico.

In recent weeks, Teksid has recognized Los Mineros as the legitimate union at the plant and agreed to rehire 36 workers who said they had been fired in retaliation for supporting the independent labor group.

The unit of the Italian-French automaker would become the fourth company to resolve a complaint under the terms of the T-MEC since the first case that arose at a General Motors Co plant in Guanajuato last year.

“Compliance with the points relating to the complaint has been shown,” Teksid told Reuters on Friday, referring to its 1,500-employee plant that makes iron parts for heavy vehicles.

United States labor authorities filed a complaint under the terms of the T-MEC for alleged rights abuses on June 6, requesting an investigation by the Mexican authorities.

On July 11, Teksid and Los Mineros reached an agreement.

Swift action after eight years of conflict illustrated how USMCA – passed under former President Donald Trump – has helped Mexican workers displace long-established pro-business unions in favor of independent groups.

Still, scattered victories have left Mexico’s dominant unions, criticized for being too comfortable with management, ensconced in most factories.

When asked about the US complaint, Stellantis said it supports collective bargaining rights and will follow local laws. The Secretaries of the Economy (SE) and of Labor and Social Welfare in Mexico did not immediately respond to questions about the complaint.

Wearing a blue helmet and a new uniform, Alfonso Torres, 45, took up his old job at the factory on July 21, eight years after being fired.

As time passed and other factories refused to hire him, Torres camped outside the plant to demand his job back. Back at his job, he said his younger colleagues reminded him that the fight for a better union was worth it.

“Do you think we can leave them a salary like the one left by the CTM?” he asked, referring to the Confederation of Workers of Mexico union. “We want something fair,” he added.

Torres earns 374 pesos ($18) a day, roughly in line with established starting hourly wages for American Stellantis workers.

The TMEC aims to reduce the large pay gap between US and Mexican workers, and recent increases achieved by independent unions at General Motors and Panasonic following lawsuits linked to the agreement show that they are achieving some of their goals.

Still, wages at other plants have largely stagnated, even with inflation skyrocketing, and experts say local autoworkers lack the kind of massive clout that American unions have long given manufacturers. detroit car dealership

Imelda Jiménez, a laid-off Teksid worker who is now Los Mineros’ political affairs secretary, said the union will soon demand wage increases but was on guard to see how the plant would fare without US scrutiny under T -MEC.

The plant could have had exports taxed if it was found to be in violation of the new trade agreement, which has stricter labor rules than NAFTA.

“They’ve never behaved this way before,” Jimenez said.

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