CUPE welcomes the Canadian government’s intention to put stronger labour rights on the NAFTA negotiating table when talks resume this weekend. But National President Mark Hancock says this is the first of many fundamental changes needed to overhaul the trade deal.
CUPE, along with the National Union of Public and General Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers, and United Steelworkers, has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, outlining what it would take to have real, enforceable labour standards in a trade agreement.
The letter is also clear that ending NAFTA’s many problems begins with labour rights – but must go much further.
“A bad agreement with good labour rights is still a bad agreement,” state the four union leaders signing the letter, including Hancock.
The leaders warn Trudeau and Freeland not to use a tougher stand on labour rights as a bargaining chip to be traded away or watered down. Existing labour protections in NAFTA aren’t enforceable, leaving workers vulnerable to abuse and injustice.
The letter calls for an end to NAFTA rules that favour corporate rights. This would include removing the deal’s Chapter 11 investor protections. Chapter 11 rules let US or Mexican investors sue the Canadian government if they feel regulations enacted by democratically-elected governments affect their investments.
CUPE will continue to push for changes that help workers and protect the environment in all three NAFTA countries, as part of our call to “fundamentally remake” this flawed trade deal.