April 11, 2019 / 5:30 PM / 2 months ago

Mexican labor bill nabs key Congress vote, spurred by Pelosi warning

FILE PHOTO: Workers of assembly factories cross a street as they rush toward their shift at an industrial park in Reynosa, Mexico January 10, 2019. Picture taken January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/File Photo

(This April 11 story corrects to include dropped word ‘not’ in paragraph 6)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s lower house of Congress overwhelmingly approved a workers’ rights bill late on Thursday, legislation that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi considers key to winning over Democrats wary of a revamped North American trade pact.

Pelosi called on Mexico last week to see through the legislation, saying U.S. lawmakers could not even take up the issue unless Mexico put new laws in place to protect workers.

Democratic lawmakers in Washington say the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) must ensure workers in Mexico have the right to organize, a step that would require new Mexican labor laws. They believe a major weakness of the 25-year -old North American Free Trade Agreement that the USMCA would replace is that it allowed Mexican wages to stagnate.

The workers’ rights bill was approved by Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Thursday night with 258 members in favor, 67 opposed and 18 abstentions.

The proposal could land in the Senate as soon as next week.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said after Pelosi’s comments he does not want to give the United States any motive to reopen negotiations of the pact, which wound up last year.

“It is in our benefit to have this treaty, and for there to be no excuse for opening up negotiations again,” he said in a regular news briefing on Thursday.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Miguel Angel Gutierrez Editing by Tom Brown and Paul Tait

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