Labor attachés do not have powers

Mexico City (December 13, 2019) The labor attachés that the government of the United States intends to send to Mexico will not have any verification powers and will act as diplomatic figures.

“The labor attachés are diplomatic attachés that are part of the Embassies, and do not have any inspection capacity whatsoever. This has nothing to do with the Agreement; same as trade attachés, there are other types of attachés in the Embassies, and those are the ones referred.

“This is a unilateral matter of the United States, to have a person in its Embassy, but intending to cross this line to any kind of inspection or something of the kind is not right”, stated Moisés Kalach, director of the Trade Negotiations Strategic Council of the Business Coordinating Council.

Eugenio Salinas, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of Concamín and coordinator of the Next Door Room concurred with this definition, affirming that this figure is not included in the negotiated protocol.

“It is a misunderstanding; this has nothing to do with the negotiated protocol and they are not included in it. There are trade attachés, others for tax matters and, in Mexico, even DEA and security related attachés. That is an internal US figure which they will need to negotiate directly for its recognition by the State Department, as is the case for all diplomats; those who work in an Embassy are proposed by the Government to be accredited”, commented Eugenio Salinas.

He explained that expedite panels on the labor subject will work under two scenarios: one is that the employer or the authorities influence union democracy. For example, in the selection of union leaders in a specific plant. And, second, when interference is present on any matters or some type of pressure is applied for collective labor agreements signature or renegotiation.

Salinas admitted that there were protocol matters for which the private sector was not consulted, such as the reduction of the term for the rule of origin of steel.

“The private sector was surprised by the changes in the rules of origin for steel; that was not included; it was a last minute matter. Now we have 7 years to adjust our steel plants so they make the steel from smelting, from the original metal”, he indicated.

In turn, labor attorney Oscar de la Vega anticipated that US unions will file recurring claims on what they will deem as violations to freedom of association, freedom of negotiation and acts of interference.

Published in Reforma, Business section, by Verónica Gascón.