Unlike Europe – where the basic labour and labour laws are similar in each country of the Community – there are fundamental differences between labour law and labour law in the United States and Mexico. Surprisingly, it is not our laws that are tougher on group rights. Mexico has adopted a European approach to labour and labour law. Its underlying premise is that group rights, trade union rights, individual rights, are of the utmost importance in American law. Harmonizing or consolidating our two different philosophies of work would be difficult, if not impossible. At least it would form the basis of endless litigation. NAALC also sets eleven labour law standards, which it describes as principles. These two levels are divided into three levels, with each level subject to additional measures taken by States Parties to address them. The most fundamental level, which allows the slightest intervention, includes freedom of association and the right to organization, the right to collective right and the right to strike.
The second level includes the prohibition of forced labour, compensation for work and disease, protection of migrant workers, the elimination of discrimination in the workplace and equal pay between men and women. The highest level is the protection of child and youth labour, minimum employment standards such as the minimum wage and the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses. In a widely quoted speech in 1992, just before the presidential election, Clinton said that, as negotiated, „NAFTA has done nothing to reaffirm our right to insist that Mexicans meet their own labour standards, which are now often violated.“ Following Clinton`s intervention, Mexican President Carlos Salinas agreed to address concerns beyond the specific trade issues that are addressed in the main agreement.40 46 Executive Office of the President, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, „Study on the Operation and Effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement,“ July 1997.