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Cablegate: Embassy Ottawa

VZCZCXRO3593
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0767 1582110
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 062110Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7984
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1839

UNCLAS OTTAWA 000767

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN, EEB/IFD/OIA and EEB/DCT

STATE PASS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR CRISPIN RIGBY AND CHARLOTTE
PONTICELLI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON ETRD PREL CA
SUBJ: Labor Secretary Chao Attends North American Agreement of
Labor Cooperation Meeting in Ottawa


1. (U) SUMMARY: U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Canadian Labor
Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, and Mexican Secretary of Labor and
Social Welfare Javier Lozano Alarcsn attended a Ministerial meeting
of the North American Agreement of Labor Cooperation (NAALC) in
Ottawa on April 23-23. The meeting provided the three NAALC
Ministers the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the NAALC
and NAFTA, to discuss future priorities for the Secretariat of the
Commission for Labor Cooperation, and to sign a joint declaration
resolving a public communication filed in 2003 concerning freedom of
association and collective bargaining rights in Puebla, Mexico. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) The U.S. Secretary of Labor and her Canadian and Mexican
counterparts held the Eighth Regular Session of the North American
Agreement of Labor Cooperation (NAALC) Council of Ministers in
Ottawa, Canada on April 23-24. The meeting took place in a very
positive atmosphere. The Ministers reached consensus on all matters
under discussion and provided concrete guidance to the Secretariat
staff, which was represented by incoming Executive Director Daniel
Bernier and Director of Administration Gabriel Jimenez. The
Ministers agreed to hold these meetings annually in the future. The
Seventh Session of the Council of Ministers was held in Washington
on November 13, 2003.

3. (U) Secretary Chao reaffirmed the United States' commitment to
the NAALC and emphasized the benefits that each of the three North
American countries have enjoyed as a result of NAFTA.

4. (U) Scott Streiner, the Council Designee from Canada, delivered a
presentation on future priorities for the Commission of Labor
Cooperation. He presented the Ministers with possible topics for
cooperative activities and research to be undertaken by the
Secretariat and proposed an increased commitment to more efficient
handling of public communications under the NAALC. In addition to
approving current plans to pursue cooperative activities on youth
employment and mine safety, the Ministers expressed interest in
activities focusing on workplace protections for vulnerable workers,
addressing the employment challenges of new and emerging
technologies such as biofuels, and producing materials on the
benefits of trade. There was also discussion on the topic of labor
law reform, which is of particular relevance in Mexico.

5. (U) The Ministers agreed that they would make every effort to
resolve public communication cases within one year of the filing of
a complaint with the National Administrative Offices. The meeting
concluded with the signing of the joint declaration resolving the
"Puebla case." The declaration mandates the Secretariat to develop
a variety of reports and informational materials concerning
procedures to resolve unjust dismissal complaints, processes for
registration of unions, and access to collective bargaining
agreements. The Mexican authorities committed to host a
government-to-government session in Puebla with federal and state
authorities to exchange information on best practices on the
subjects noted above. This session is to be followed by a seminar,
which will include other relevant stakeholders. The joint
declaration calls for a plan of action to be developed within 90
days (July 2008) and to complete planned activities within 15 months
(July 2009).

6. (U) The Secretary said that private ballot elections in union
formation and the selection of collective bargaining representatives
Qformation and the selection of collective bargaining representatives
is an important protection for workers. Mexico and Canada provided
their views on this issue and the Ministers agreed to charge their
Council Designees to hold discussions on the issue, with the
possibility of requesting further examination of the topic by the
Secretariat in the future.

BREESE

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