- Gender-based protections for women workers was considered an urgent issue
- Discrimination and forced labor were marked as key issues for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement
July 3, 2023 – On June 29th, the Labor Council under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement held a virtual public session, where the Council addressed questions from workers, employers, civil society organizations, and the general public.
Among the concerns brought to the Council’s attention was the following submission from Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a PERIPLO partner organization: “27 months have passed since women migrant workers and dozens of organizations filed a complaint against the US government, alleging systematic gender-based discrimination in temporary work visa programs. What will the Labor Council do to address this issue?”
In response, Thea Lee, the US Department of Labor Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, stated that, in response to this complaint, a number of different efforts have been undertaken to ensure protections for migrant women workers.
Among the examples provided by Lee is an expansion of consular assistance for victims of gender-based harassment and discrimination. She added that on January 17th of this year the governments of Mexico and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Mobility and Protection of Participants in Temporary Foreign Worker Programs, which, among other things, promotes fair recruitment and decent work, strengthens bilateral cooperation surrounding temporary work visa programs, and explores ways to support labor mobility options and the flow of information on worker rights, protections, and resources.
Furthermore, the Deputy Undersecretary pointed out that a technical assistance project is being developed to facilitate collaboration between migrant workers, civil society organizations, employers, and governments in order to pursue all of the objectives outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding, including the reinforcement of protections against gender-based discrimination and violations of rights.
The Deputy Undersecretary’s statements are encouraging, because they reveal a range of possibilities for the future, particularly the forthcoming technical assistance program that would directly impact the defense of migrant workers’ human rights.
The PERIPLO Project applauds these announcements and remains committed to monitoring the progress of these actions designed to address and eradicate gender-based violence and discrimination in the workplace, particularly as they affect women migrant farm workers in Mexico and the United States.
The meetings of the Labor Council, which occur every two years, are highly important as they handle urgent issues, shortcomings, and areas for improvement under the USMCA. At this most recent meeting, in addition to the aforementioned issues, the Council also discussed labor policies regarding violence and discrimination in the workplace, reports on cooperation and technical assistance projects between the three countries, and the implementation of regulations to prevent forced labor.
PERIPLO Project brings together the following national and international civil society organizations: Centro de Acompañamiento a Migrantes (CAMINOS), Centro de los Derechos del Migrante Inc. (CDM), Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova, Centro de Estudios en Cooperación Internacional y Gestión Pública (CECIG), Centro de Información y Recursos sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos (CIEDH), Cierto Global, Nosotr@s por la Democracia, Oxfam Mexico, Stronger Together, Verité, Voces Mesoamericanas, and Acción con Pueblos Migrantes. PERIPLO is made possible thanks to the support of the Walmart Foundation.
Visit www.proyectoperiplo.org to learn more about PERIPLO and the work of our partner organizations.