Nafta Labour Side Agreement

62 Morton Bahr, President of Communication Workers of America, Comments, reproduced in Commission for Labor Cooperation, “Review of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation,” March 1999. Available at www.naalc.org/english/publications/review_annex5_us.htm. These provisions classify the content of each state`s national labour laws within the scope of the agreement, even if they avoid fixing cross-border content. However, the Mexican NAO argued that changes to national legislation cannot be taken into account under the NAALC, as it did in the complaint filed against the United States in the DeCoster Egg Farm reports: “NAALC commitments do not require the establishment of common labour standards, changes to national laws or supranational mechanisms.” 72 In this case, the petitioners complained that the United States had failed to meet NAALC standards for the protection of migrant workers, minimum employment standards, the elimination of discrimination in the workplace, the prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses, and compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses on a Maine egg farm. 3. The secretariat presents to the Council a draft report or study drawn up in accordance with paragraphs 1 or 2. If the Commission considers that a report or study is largely inaccurate or otherwise flawed, the Commission may submit it to the Secretariat for further review or other provision. NAFTA included two ancillary agreements, one on the environment and the other on labour. The aim was to push for the three Member States to comply with their own legislation in these areas.

Mexico`s inclusion in NAFTA was the initial justification, but the requirements applied to all three countries. The non-compliance was intolerable. In the case of the environmental agreement, known as the North American Environmental Cooperation Agreement (NAAEC), the opportunities for civil society were different. Under the NAAEC, Mexican civil society does not receive complaints to another Member State. Instead, they go to a trilateral commission known as the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). This Commission has the power to launch and publish reports of investigations into complaints (although this depends on the agreement of the Member States). It can also produce reports from them. By participating in these NAFTA institutions, labour and environmental civil society groups have established links with other NGOs outside Mexico and contributed to processes of institutional, bureaucratic and political change in Mexico.