WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Honduras signed a labor rights agreement on Wednesday that will establish a comprehensive monitoring and action plan aimed at improving workers’ rights in the Central American country.
The new agreement stems from a report the U.S. Labor Department issued in February based on a complaint filed by several unions alleging labor law violations in sectors ranging from apparel manufacturing to agriculture to port operations.
“To ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared, you need meaningful enforcement that protects workers and supports a growing and vibrant middle class at home and around the world,” said Labor Secretary Tom Perez. “[Honduran] Minister [of Labor Carlos] Madero and his team really stepped up to the plate to negotiate this promising and far-reaching agreement that will benefit Honduran workers as well as workers here in the United States.”
U.S. officials said the agreement “goes beyond the reforms” called for by the U.S. in the report. It includes provisions that address the “legal, institutional and practical” challenges to labor law enforcement in Honduras and also aims to increase transparency and outreach to labor and business stakeholders.
The DOL said there were “serious concerns” about the Honduran government’s enforcement of labor laws in the February report. That report, a response to a 78-page complaint filed by the AFL-CIO and 26 Honduran unions and civil society groups, highlights alleged labor violations at 17 work sites in Honduras, including at factories owned by Hanesbrands Inc., as well as others producing apparel and footwear for major brands, as previously reported.
The group of unions alleged that the Honduran government violated provisions of the Central American Free Trade Agreement by failing to effectively enforce its labor laws. Subsequently, the DOL said it found evidence of labor law violations in most of the cases submitted by the AFL-CIO and Honduran labor groups.
The AFL-CIO and other unions alleged labor violations related to collective bargaining and freedom of association at several factories owned and operated by Hanesbrands Inc.; Dickies de Honduras, owned and operated by U.S.-based Williamson-Dickies Mfg. Co.; Pinehurst Mfg. Inc.; Ceiba Textiles S. de R.L., and Ation Honduras S.A. de C.V.