The U.S. Department of Labor released a report today that raises serious concerns regarding the effective enforcement of labor laws in Honduras under the labor chapter of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The report provides recommendations (PDF 1.4 MB) to address the concerns and calls for the contact points established under Article 16.4 of CAFTA-DR to consult to develop and implement a monitoring and action plan.
Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Carol Pier and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Carlos Romero traveled to Honduras for the report’s release to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to continuing its cooperative engagement with the Honduran government to address labor concerns. In that spirit, the Honduran Ministry of Labor and U.S. Department of Labor issued a joint statement pledging to work together to implement the report’s recommendations. The U.S. Department of Labor simultaneously announced the launch of a $7 million cooperative agreement (PDF 25 KB) to World Vision to implement a project to combat child labor and improve respect for labor rights in Honduras, including by building the enforcement capacity of the Honduran Ministry of Labor.
“To build an economy that works for everyone, we must stand up for workers at home and around the world. When necessary, we must act to ensure compliance with the labor provisions of our trade agreements,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said. “This report is an important opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with Honduras in addressing critical labor rights concerns. I want to thank Minister of Labor Madero for pledging to work with us to resolve these issues.”
The report is a response to a 78-page submission filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs Office of Trade and Labor Affairs by the AFL-CIO and 26 Honduran unions and civil society organizations. The submission alleged that the Honduran government failed to effectively enforce its labor laws, highlighting examples from 17 work sites spanning the manufacturing, agriculture, and port sectors.
The report is a comprehensive and exhaustive factual accounting and analysis of the allegations in the submission and the product of a lengthy and thorough investigation. Going forward, the U.S. Department of Labor will conduct a more streamlined and timely review of labor submissions received under U.S. trade agreements to maximize the effectiveness of the submission process as a tool for expeditiously resolving labor concerns.
In its review in this case, the U.S. Department of Labor raises serious concerns with respect to the protection of internationally recognized labor rights in Honduras, including the effective enforcement of labor laws related to:
- the right of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, specifically related to protections for founding union members and union leaders, anti-union retaliation, union dissolution, and employer interference with the right to associate and bargain collectively;
- acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health; and
- the minimum age for the employment of children and the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
The report finds evidence that raises serious concerns about the Government of Honduras’ capacity to prevent, identify, and remedy violations of these labor laws.
The report calls for the U.S. Department of Labor, in consultation with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of State, to review progress towards addressing the concerns identified in the report within 12 months and to consider further appropriate action or engagement, as needed, under the CAFTA-DR.
For more information about ILAB’s work in Honduras, visit www.dol.gov/ilab/