The U.S. Department of Labor has agreed to review a union complaint against the government of Tegucigalpa for breach of labor laws under the free trade agreement DR-CAFTA, according to an official announcement released today.
The largest U.S. labor federation AFL-CIO and 27 trade unions and civic organizations in Honduras filed a complaint on 26 March before the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) Labor Department, which highlighted alleged violations of the labor chapter of DR-CAFTA.
The Labor Department reported today in the official newspaper of the Government ("Federal Register) that OTLA has agreed to review the complaint against Honduras.
According to the complaint, Honduras has practically deprived workers of their trade union rights in the agricultural, tailored clothing and auto parts sectors as well as firms in Puerto Cortes.
The U.S. is withdrawing from suing the Guatemalan State for breach of labor rules before an international tribunal provided by the DR-CAFTA.
"In order to prevent the creation of an international panel that could lead to Guatemala paying a penalty of up to $15 million for violating labor laws, the Government has agreed with the United States to abide by a commitment to a plan to implement policies respecting these rules ", reported Prensalibre.com.
Demands have been made for the U.S. Department of Labor to form an arbitration panel against the country over the lack of progress in labor matters.
From a press release by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO):
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest trade union center in the U.S., in conjunction with the largest unions of Guatemala as a gesture of appreciation over the lack of labor rights protection under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA, for its acronym in English), today sent a letter to the U.S. Labor Department, the U.S. Trade Representative , and the ministers of labor and economy in Guatemala, in which they called for an arbitration panel to be reinstated. The "Implementation Plan" was signed by the two governments on April 26, 2013.