Citing “repeated and well-documented violations of workers' rights” that the Honduran government has “utterly failed to address,” the AFL-CIO and the major Honduran trade unions are asking the U.S. government to act under the terms of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).
The petition filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs says the Honduran government has failed to effectively enforce its labor laws and comply with its commitments under the six-year-old DR-CAFTA. The petition is the first step in the process to compel a nation to enforce its labor obligations under the agreement. Says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The petition reflects the long-term cooperation and commitment of the AFL-CIO and the Honduran labor movement to promote and protect workers' rights.
The petition says workers in Honduras have continued to see violations of their rights of freedom of association, collective bargaining and acceptable conditions of work under national and international law. Many workers don’t have access to fair and efficient administrative or judicial tribunals. Child labor, particularly in the agricultural sector, is also a serious concern.
Two Honduran labor leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to file the complaint. Joel López Mejía, deputy secretary general of the Independent Federation of Workers of Honduras (FITH), says:
The government and corporations have continued to act with impunity, while undermining our most basic rights.
Evangelina Argueta Chinchilla, from Honduras' General Workers Confederation (CGT), says, “We are here in search of justice.”
For many years our government has neglected workers and even has violated their own promises. They have ignored Honduras’ unions, while dealing openly with corporations. They have passed laws that undermine unions and reduce standards of living.
Earlier this month more than a 100 U.S. House and Senate members signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressing their concern about the “systematic” human and workers’ rights violations by the Honduran government. Click here for more.