U.S. seeks Mexico probe into Panasonic worker rights

U.S. seeks Mexico probe into Panasonic worker rights

MEXICO CITY - U.S. labor officials on Wednesday asked Mexico to find out if workers at a Panasonic auto parts factory were denied labor rights, marking the third U.S. labor complaint under a new trade deal that aims to improve workplace conditions in Mexico.

The U.S. Trade Representative USTR comes after a Mexican union petitioned the U.S. government to investigate Panasonic's plant in the northern border city of Reynosa, alleging violations of the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement USMCA U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a letter to Mexico's Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier that the agency was concerned workers were denied rights to free association and collective bargaining at Panasonic Automotive Systems de Mexico.

Panasonic Corp of North America said in a statement that it respects and supports the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining for our employees, and that it did not believe it denied these rights.

The Japanese industrial conglomerate said it would continue to comply with all legal requirements and cooperate with authorities as requested by the Mexican Government in its review. Tai noted that two previous labor complaints, also filed under the USMCA's Rapid Response Mechanism, which aims to resolve disputes, resulted in benefits for workers.

When concerns arise, we will work swiftly to stand up for workers on both sides of the border, Tai said.

Mexico's economy and labor ministries didn't respond immediately to requests for comment. The Mexican government has 10 days to decide whether to conduct a review.

The Mexican union that requested the inquiry, SNITIS, accused Panasonic of signing a union contract behind workers' backs and firing several dozen employees who protested.