The American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and 6 Guatemalan unions, have asked the U.S. government to open an arbitration proceeding against Guatemala for allegedly not making progress in ensuring compliance with labor rights in the country.
The claims are based on Chapter 16 of the Free Trade Agreement between Central America and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA).
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement that they must "proceed immediately to arbitration" because the complaint was filed along with six Guatemalan unions four years ago and there still has not been any justice for workers, reported Elperiodico.com.gt.
"We are aware of their (the unions') frustration, four years is a long time to achieve a resolution." That was the reaction from the U.S. Embassy by Steve Steger, deputy director of Political Affairs.
For his part, Carlos Contreras, Minister of Labour, said, "We regret that the unions do not value the efforts we are making, they do not see it as the three months (of this government) but four years."
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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.
The authorities see it as "inevitable" that the U.S. will take the country to such a process due to pressure from trade unions, fearing an impact on exports to the U.S. market.
"It's almost inevitable that the case will go to an arbitration panel," said Economy Minister Sergio de la Torre, speaking of the imminent start of a U.S.
Guatemala is preparing a plan to inspect factories in order to avoid a possible arbitration, forced by the US, for non-compliance of labor standards under CAFTA.
The Labour Ministry is preparing a program to inspect working conditions in the textile factories which could take six months to complete.
Local and U.S. labor unions have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor for breach of the rules established under DR-CAFTA.
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.