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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks for Secretary Hilda L. Solis
Labor Cooperation with India Meeting
Frances Perkins Building
Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.
Thursday, February 2, 2012


It's a pleasure to welcome Minister Kharge back to the Department of Labor. Over the last 10 years, the Department of Labor and India's Ministry of Labor and Employment have worked together on a number of important projects, addressing women's employment, worker safety, child labor and educating employers about HIV/AIDS issues in the workplace.

Two years ago, Minister Kharge and I met during the G20 labor ministers meeting. We discussed ways to enhance the bilateral cooperation on a number of important labor and employment issues. At that meeting, we had a productive dialogue and agreed to stronger cooperation on work safety and health issues, skills development and youth employment.

So I'm delighted to sign this memorandum of understanding today to codify these new areas of mutual concern. Under this MOU, my department's Mine Safety and Health Administration will provide technical assistance to improve the health and safety of India's mines.

We know that India has a thriving mining industry. More than 1.2 million Indians work in more than 700 mines of all sizes, including manual and mechanized mines, and opencast and underground mines. We are excited about the many advances you have made in modernizing your mines. And we've learned a lot of lessons about the most effective way to protect America's miners from workplace hazards. Joe Main and our dedicated MSHA staff looks forward to working with you on emergency management plans, risk assessment strategies and efforts to combat occupational diseases. I applaud Minister Kharge for his commitment to his nation's miners. We are proud to work with you on this critical initiative.

We're also excited to enhance our cooperation on other occupational safety and health issues. I know you have conveyed your earnest commitment to adopting state-of-the-art industry standards on worker safety and health. This has been a strong focus of mine here in the United States. We believe we have an obligation to do all we can to ensure that American workers return home to their families each day in the same condition they left them. We hope we can learn from one another in our shared commitment to protect our workers in a range of industries, including construction, port activity, shipbuilding, mining and off-shore drilling. Staff with three of our agencies here — OSHA, MSHA, and our Bureau of International Labor Affairs — are all excited to partner with your nation in this important work.

Finally, we are pleased to continue our ongoing collaboration on employment and training issues. My department has expertise in labor statistics and research, specialized training programs, public employment services, youth apprenticeships and transitional employment. We've also placed a major focus on creating job opportunities for women, persons with disabilities and vulnerable workers. It's our hope that we can partner together in these areas as India continues its remarkable economic transformation.

Here at the Department of Labor, we're proud of our commitment to America's workers. And today, we're proud that our nations have agreed to work together on so many important fronts as part of our new Joint Working Group.

Our agreement will mean more senior-level dialogue between our country's leaders. It will mean sharing best practices ad engaging in additional bilateral visits on labor and employment issues. And it will mean holding seminars and workshops in both of our countries on matters of mutual interest.

So on behalf of President Obama and the entire administration, I extend the hand of fellowship and goodwill. And I look forward to working together in the months ahead.