(Washington, D.C., Friday, February 27, 2014) – Today, the AFL-CIO welcomed the U.S. Department of Labor’s report confirming widespread, major violations of labor rights in Honduras. The report was issued nearly three years after American and Honduran workers filed a complaint with the U.S. government asking it to investigate labor rights violations under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).
“The Honduran government must be held accountable for these failures and workers deserve to be confident that their government will defend their rights. Honduras must be required to enforce its labor laws and ensure that employers are complying with fines and remediation orders,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
At the same time, the labor federation expressed disappointment that the U.S. government took three years to respond to the complaint. “The delay is yet another reminder that our government is operating under a broken trade model and it’s failing to protect labor rights. The administration has failed to investigate violations and deliver timely relief to workers in countries with which we have trade agreements. This encourages governments like Honduras to continue to avoid their commitments,” added Trumka
In November, the Government Accountability Office outlined the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Labor’s failure to systematically monitor and enforce labor commitments in trade agreements.
The US government’s report confirms ongoing labor violations in Honduras and raises questions about the effectiveness of labor protections in the TPP and in ongoing trade negotiations. As the United States negotiates these agreements, it must include new rules and labor protections that end impunity, improve law enforcement, are applied in a timely manner, and reduce the overwhelming influence of corporations and investors. Without enforceable rules, trade will continue to facilitate a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions for all workers—which will result in continued social and economic turmoil – not just in places like Honduras, but across the globe.