/** labr.global: 386.0 **/
** Topic: Chile's Unions Want Labr Clause In NAFTA Agreement **
** Written 8:52 PM Mar 9, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
From: Institute for Global Communications <email@example.com>
Subject: Chile's Unions Want Labr Clause In NAFTA Agreement
Saturday March 1 8:05 AM EST
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuter - Chile's largest trade union body has demanded labor and environmental clauses be included in any deal to extend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA to Chile.
Employment rules were necessary to stop Chile from becoming "a marketplace for cheap labor and inhuman working conditions," said a statement by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT released Friday.
Chile's long-delayed bid to join NAFTA was revived this week during President Eduardo Frei's visit to the United States where he held talks with President Clinton and addressed Congress.
Clinton called on Congress to pass "fast track" legislation to allow the administration to negotiate trade accords with Chile and other Latin American countries. Talks on Chile's membership in NAFTA started in December 1994 but have stalled because of the lack of "fast track" authority.
Union leaders accused Chilean companies of opposing the employment and environmental clauses so they can operate under poor labor conditions and without protecting the environment.
"Some Chilean businessmen want to compete with North American firms at the cost of bad working conditions, cheap labor and a disregard for the environnment," CUT general secretary Maria Rozas said.
Despite these concerns, trades unionists did not oppose Chile's membership in NAFTA, which links the United States, Mexico and Canada, she said. "We support trade agreements, but not those which mean more labor exploitation," Rozas said.
Chilean ecologists on Wednesday opposed the extension of NAFTA to Chile, saying it would reduce the existing levels of environmental protection.