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Dominican Republic Submission under CAFTA-DR

CAFTA-DR Free Trade Agreement logo

The U.S Department of Labor has issued a public report in response to a submission filed by Father Christopher Hartley under Chapter 16 (the Labor Chapter) of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The report was released on September 27, 2013.

The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, as the designated contact point under the Labor Chapter, conducted a detailed review of the allegations contained in the submission. 

The review included two missions to the Dominican Republic; interviews with the Government of the Dominican Republic, workers in the Dominican sugar sector, executives of the three major sugar companies, and other stakeholders; as well as the examination of extensive documentation provided by the Government of the Dominican Republic, the submitter, and others.

The report finds evidence of apparent and potential violations of labor law in the Dominican sugar sector concerning:

  1. acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health;
  2. a minimum age for the employment of children and the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor; and
  3. a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor. 

The report additionally notes concerns in the sugar sector with respect to Dominican labor law on freedom of association, the right to organize, and collective bargaining. 

The report also raises significant concerns about procedural and methodological shortcomings in the inspection process that undermine the government's capacity to effectively identify labor violations.  Such shortcomings include inspectors interviewing no workers or only a small number of workers during inspections, communicating in Spanish with Creole-speaking workers, failing to investigate topics relevant to assessing labor law compliance, and questioning workers in front of their supervisors. 

The report offers eleven recommendations to the Government of the Dominican Republic to address the report's findings and improve enforcement of Dominican labor laws in the sugar sector.  The report also expresses the Department of Labor's firm commitment to engaging with the Government of the Dominican Republic to address the concerns identified and implement the recommendations and notes that the Department of Labor will review the status of such implementation six months and then 12 months after publication. 

More Information

Learn More: ILAB in the Domninican Republic | Labor Rights & Free Trade Agreements