.The article below, by Ellen Verryt , published on the social network UnionBook backgrounds a move by the U.S. to a launch a labour complaint under the provisions of the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Agreement. Unions in both the US and Guatemalan have been publicly seeking action on the subject since 2008.
“In a landmark move, the US has launched a formal labour rights complaint against trade partner Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). US Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced the decision on Friday during a speech in Pennsylvania. It is the first time that any country has filed a formal labour case under a free trade agreement.
In its official request for consultations, the US claims that the Central American country has failed to enforce effectively Guatemalan laws that protect workers’ rights, such as the freedom of association, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to work in acceptable conditions.
This alleged lapse in governance “harms US workers by forcing them to compete against substandard labour practices and tilts the playing field away from American workers and business,” the Office of the USTR said in a statement. Kirk, in his speech, urged the Guatemalan government to take “specific and effective action - including, if appropriate, legislative reforms - to improve the systemic failures in enforcement of Guatemalan labour law.”
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