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Human and labour rights of Mexicans absent from NAFTA Summit

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - The NAFTA Summit held in Toluca, Mexico on February 19 should have marked the beginning of a new dialogue between Mexico and Canada: a dialogue that fosters unconditional respect for the labour rights of all migrant workers.

After 70 years of bilateral relations, 40 years after the signing of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, and 20 years after the signing of NAFTA, trade and investment between Mexico and Canada have grown exponentially.

Unfortunately, the issue of the fundamental rights of Mexicans in Canada, particularly those of migrant and immigrant workers, was deliberately left aside during the meeting.

Mexico has described Canada's unilateral imposition of a visa on Mexican visitors to Canada as an "irritant", but the truth is the impact of this measure is minimal compared to the constant violations of the fundamental rights of less fortunate Mexicans who travel to Canada as low skilled temporary workers or undocumented workers.

Ironically, it is the very Mexican government that has violated the rights of Mexicans abroad by failing to protect them, penalizing those who raise their voices to fight for their rights by forming a union.

Since 2009, Mexico faces charges of anti-union activity for conspiring with Canadian farmers to exclude people from the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program who tried to join the union, UFCW Canada Local 1518.

Last February 14, Mexico filed an appeal before the British Columbia Supreme Court to erase documented evidence and sworn testimonies that confirm its blatant disrespect for its own citizens' freedom of association.

Mexico and Canada can keep pretending they are business partners, or may finally assume that the profile of Mexican migration to Canada has changed. Both countries are responsible for the dignified and respectful treatment of all workers, regardless of their origin or migratory status.

UFCW Canada is Canada's leading and most progressive union, representing more than 250,000 union members across Canada, who primarily work in retail and food production industries — including migrant and domestic agriculture workers at various locations in Quebec and British Columbia. For more than two decades UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for farm workers' rights, and in association with the AWA (Agriculture Workers Alliance) operates 10 agriculture worker support centers across Canada.

SOURCE United Food and Commercial Workers Canada

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