The United States said on Thursday it reached a deal with Guatemala to resolve a dispute over labor conditions and workers rights in the Central American country, which has been a U.S. free trade partner since 2006.
The new 18-point labor enforcement plan “reflects Guatemala’s commitment to constructive engagement to meet its labor obligations under our trade agreement,” acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said in a statement.
The United States expects implementation of the plan “over the coming months will yield demonstrable improvements in Guatemalan labor law enforcement that will be a real victory for workers,” acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris said.
The United States filed the case in 2010 under the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic free trade agreement, otherwise known as CAFTA-DR.
It was the first labor case Washington has brought to dispute settlement under a trade agreement.
It stemmed from a complaint filed five years ago this month by the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor group, alleging that Guatemala had violated its labor obligations under CAFTA-DR by failing to effectively enforce its labor laws.
Under the new enforcement plan, Guatemala has committed to strengthen labor inspections, expedite and streamline the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations and increase labor law compliance by exporting companies, the U.S. trade office said.
Guatemala will also 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, the office said.