Canadian leader urges improved conditions for Mexican workers and women

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addesses Mexico's Senate Friday Oct. 13. PHOTO: Animal Politico
 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the need to improve salaries and working conditions in Mexico as part of the modernization of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in a wide-ranging address to the Senate on Friday Oct. 13.
On the second and final day of his first state visit to the country, Trudeau told senators and deputies at the joint sitting that improvements were essential to achieving a new deal that would stand the test of time.

“We must ensure that workers are protected by progressive labor standards,” he argued.

“Progressive labor standards are how we ensure that a modernized NAFTA will not just bolster free and fair trade but will enjoy long lasting popular support . . . . We must pursue trade agreements that are win-win-win, helping workers across North America achieve better standards, wages and working conditions.”

Wages have been a contentious issue in NAFTA renegotiation talks because salaries are much lower in Mexico compared to its two northern neighbors, and the U.S. especially has argued that it places its automotive and other manufacturing industries at a distinct disadvantage.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addesses Mexico’s Senate Friday Oct. 13. PHOTO: Animal Politico

He thanked Mexico for its leadership on climate change and for supporting the inclusion of a section in a new NAFTA deal that recognizes the specific importance of women in the labor market as well as their rights.

“We must move the needle forward on gender equality, this is an idea that all nations of the world should get behind,” he said.

“This is why Canada is so appreciative of Mexico’s support for a gender chapter in the modernization of NAFTA . . . this is a progressive step forward that we can’t afford not to take.”

However, Trudeau quickly changed the tone of the speech, saying, “we still have work to do, notably as it relates to human rights.”

“Just yesterday, I met with civil society leaders here in Mexico City and I heard stories about the treatment of women and girls that are unacceptable,” he said.




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