The Department of Labor released Feb. 27 a report it says raises “serious concerns” regarding the effective enforcement of labor laws in Honduras under the labor chapter of CAFTA-DR. The report provides recommendations to address these concerns and calls for the development and implementation of a monitoring and action plan. This report is a response to a submission filed by the AFL-CIO and 26 Honduran unions and civil society organizations alleging that the Honduran government failed to effectively enforce its labor laws and highlighting examples from 17 worksites spanning the manufacturing, agriculture and port sectors. 

Concurrent with the release of the report, the U.S. and Honduras issued a joint pledge to work together to implement the report’s recommendations, which include a review of progress within 12 months and consideration of further action or engagement if needed. For example, the DOL has announced the launch of a $7 million cooperative agreement to implement a project to combat child labor and improve respect for labor rights in Honduras, including by building the enforcement capacity of the Honduran Ministry of Labor.

The department noted that its investigation of the allegations against Honduras was “lengthy and thorough” and that in the future it will “conduct a more streamlined and timely review of labor submissions received under U.S. trade agreements.” The AFL-CIO issued a press release expressing disappointment that the U.S. government “took three years to respond to the complaint,” which “encourages governments like Honduras to continue to avoid their commitments.” The organization added that this delay “is yet another reminder that our government is operating under a broken trade model” and instead called for the U.S. to include in the trade agreements it is currently negotiating “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.”

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