Statement | Trade · Global Worker Rights

Concerning the Failure of the Government of Colombia to Comply with Chapter 17 of the Colombia-United States Trade Promotion Agreement

The government of Colombia (GOC) has failed to comply with multiple obligations under Chapter 17 of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). The GOC has failed to effectively enforce its labor laws through a sustained and recurring course of inaction and action in a manner that affects trade and investment; waived or otherwise derogated from its statutes and regulations in a manner affecting trade or investment; failed to adopt and maintain in its statutes and regulations, and practices thereunder, the rights as stated in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; failed to ensure that proceedings in its administrative, judicial or labor tribunals are transparent and do not entail unwarranted delays and failed to ensure that final decisions from its administrative, judicial or labor tribunals are made available without undue delay. The GOC is therefore in violation of its obligations under Chapter 17, Articles 17.2.1 (a)-(b), 17.2.2, 17.3.1 (a), 17.4.2 and 17.4.3. (b) of the TPA, which entered into force on May 15, 2012.

The labor unions and federations and non-governmental organizations (the “petitioners”) listed on the cover page hereby jointly file this petition with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) in accordance with the procedures set forth at 71 Fed. Reg. 76691, Section F. Upon completing its investigation, petitioners request that the U.S. invoke Cooperative Labor Consultations under Article 17.7 of the TPA to ensure the GOC takes all measures necessary to amend its laws, regulations and procedures in accordance with ILO fundamental labor rights and address the legal, institutional, and practical obstacles to the effective enforcement of labor laws and access to justice. If these consultations fail to bring about full compliance with Chapter 17 within a year of their commencement, the petitioners urge the U.S. to invoke the dispute settlement process under Chapter 21. As described in this petition, the GOC has been out of compliance with its labor obligations since the first day the TPA went into effect. There is no legitimate reason that workers should continue to be denied their rights. Delay hurts not only the working people whose rights are denied, but all other working people whose pay and benefits are dragged down as a consequence, including workers in the U.S.