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In the Matter of Guatemala – Issues Relating to the Obligations Under Article 16.2.1(a) of the CAFTA-DR

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced on September 18, 2014, that the United States is proceeding with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).  The United States has engaged extensively with Guatemala in an effort to improve labor law enforcement.  This engagement led to the signing of a groundbreaking Enforcement Plan between the United States and Guatemala in April 2013.  Guatemala took a number of important steps to implement the Enforcement Plan; however, critical actions agreed to under the Enforcement Plan still remain outstanding.  In addition, further steps are necessary to demonstrate that the legal reforms Guatemala has undertaken are being effectively implemented, leading to concrete improvements on the ground.

United States Proceeds with Labor Enforcement Case Against Guatemala 

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The United States and Guatemala agreed on a robust enforcement plan to resolve concerns raised in a labor case brought by the United States under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The 18-point plan includes concrete actions with specific time frames that Guatemala will implement within six months to improve labor law enforcement. This is the first labor case that the United States has brought to dispute settlement under a trade agreement. Under the Enforcement Plan, which was the result of extensive engagement and resolve by both governments, Guatemala has committed to strengthen labor inspections, expedite and streamline the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations, increase labor law compliance by exporting companies, improve the monitoring and enforcement of labor court orders, publish labor law enforcement information, and establish mechanisms to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed when factories close.

Fact Sheet: Guatemala Agrees to Comprehensive Labor Enforcement Plan

Mutually Agreed Enforcement Plan between the United States and Guatemala

On August 9, 2011, the United States requested the establishment of an arbitral panel under article 20.6 of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) regarding the Government of Guatemala’s apparent failure to effectively enforce its labor laws. The matter at issue is Guatemala’s failure to conform to its obligations under Article 16.2.1(a) with respect to the effective enforcement of Guatemalan labor laws related to the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work. Consultations under CAFTA-DR were held in September and December of 2010 and a meeting of the Free Trade Commission was held on June 7, 2011.

USTR Kirk Announces Next Step in Labor Rights Enforcement Case against Guatemala 

Model Rules of Procedure

Roster of Labor Panelists

Labor Panelists’ Code of Conduct

Reaction to Enforcement:

On May 16, 2011, the United States requested a meeting of the Free Trade Commission under article 20.5.2 of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) regarding the Government of Guatemala’s apparent failure to effectively enforce its labor laws. Of concern is the Government of Guatemala’s failure to meet its obligations under the Labor Chapter of CAFTA-DR, with respect to effective enforcement of Guatemalan labor laws related to the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work. The request stems from an April 2008 submission filed with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Labor Chapter of CAFTA-DR by U.S. and Guatemalan labor unions and consultations on the matter under article 16.6.1 of the CAFTA-DR that began in July 2010.

Letter from Ambassador Kirk to Guatemala requesting Free Trade Commission Meeting

USTR Kirk Seeks Enforcement of Labor Laws in Guatemala

On July 30, 2010, the United States requested consultations with Guatemala under article 16.6.1 of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), for apparent violations of obligations on labor rights. Of concern is the Government of Guatemala’s failure to meet its obligations under the Labor Chapter of CAFTA-DR, with respect to effective enforcement of Guatemalan labor laws related to the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work. The consultations request stems from an April 2008 submission filed with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Labor Chapter of CAFTA-DR by U.S. and Guatemalan labor unions.

Letter from Ambassador Ron Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis requesting Consultations

USTR Kirk Announces Labor Rights Trade Enforcement Case against Guatemala

Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk on Enforcement at Allegheny Technologies

Reaction to Enforcement

Department of Labor Press Release

AFL-CIO Submission

 

Panel Proceedingss
Brief DateBrief Description
10/14/2014U.S. Initial Written Submission