US finds ‘egregious’ labor rights denials at Atento centers in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The government of the United States has found evidence of “egregious” labor rights violations at call centers belonging to Atento in Mexico’s central Hidalgo state, labor and trade officials said in a statement on Friday.

U.S. officials asked the Mexican government to conduct a review, according to the statement.

Atento, a Spanish firm that operates two Hidalgo call centers offering customer service to BBVA bank customers, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

The move follows a petition filed by a Mexican labor union in December, alleging that Atento unlawfully terminated workers for union organizing and engaged in actions that interfered with union activities.

“The U.S. government’s investigation revealed egregious employer conduct at the Hidalgo facility,” the statement said, pointing to what it described as retaliation for and interference with union activities.

Under the USMCA’s trade treaty’s rapid response mechanism, Mexico’s government now has ten days to decide whether it will conduct a review, and 45 days to investigate the claims and present findings, the statement added.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, Raul Cortes and Valentine Hilaire; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by David Alire Garcia)