The United States formally requested that Mexico investigate allegations of wrongdoing in a union vote at a General Motors factory, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday.
Tai cited allegations of "serious violations" of worker rights during recent union vote at a GM plant in Silao, in the state of Guanajuato. The request marks the first time any country has invoked a provision of the United States-Medico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
"Using USMCA to help protect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in Mexico helps workers both at home and in Mexico, by stopping a race to the bottom," Tai said.
The request concerns a worker vote last month on whether to continue to recognize the union, an affiliate of the Confederation of Mexican Workers.
The Mexican government previously suspended the election following allegations the union destroyed unfavorable ballots and committed other chicanery.
Tai praised the Mexican government for suspending the vote, saying the US move "will complement Mexico's efforts to ensure that these workers can fully exercise their collective bargaining rights."
Under the USMCA, Mexico is to review the US request to determine if a violation took place and attempt to address it.
If the two sides can not agree the issue has been resolved, the United States may request a panel make a determination.
In connection with the move, Tai directed the Treasury Secretary to suspend settlement of customers connected to goods from Silao, pending an agreement that worker rights are not being denied.
GM said it would cooperate with both the US and Mexican governments on the probe.
"GM condemns violations of labor rights and actions to restrict collective bargaining," a spokeswoman said. "We do not believe there was any GM involvement in the alleged violations and have retained a third-party firm to conduct an independent and thorough review."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2021