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News Release

US Labor Department report identifies labor concerns in Colombia

Responds to submission filed under the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement

WASHINGTON – A report released today under the labor chapter of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs identifies significant concerns regarding Colombian labor law enforcement, as well as concerns with the prosecution of cases of anti-union violence. The report responds to a submission filed under the CTPA by the AFL-CIO and five Colombian workers’ organizations.

Since the signing of the CTPA, the U.S. government has had sustained engagement with the Colombian government to address labor concerns, particularly in the areas of violence against unionists, impunity for the perpetrators of the violence, and protection of labor rights. While the OTLA report recognizes meaningful progress made by the Colombian government over the last few years, it also identifies concerns regarding the Colombian government’s Labor Inspectorate, inspection processes, and collection of fines and finds that issues in these areas adversely affect Colombian enforcement of labor laws on freedom of association and collective bargaining. The report also details the OTLA’s ongoing concerns with subcontracting schemes and so-called “collective pacts” in Colombia, both of which may be used to undermine freedom of association and collective bargaining. The report expresses concern about the adequacy of investigations and prosecutions in cases of anti-union threats and violence, as well as criminal cases of infringement on workers’ fundamental rights.

The report sets out a path for continued engagement with Colombia’s government aimed at addressing the questions and concerns identified during the review. In light of those concerns, the report recommends to the Secretary of Labor that the U.S. government initiate consultations through the contact points designated in Article 17.5 of the CTPA Labor Chapter. To help guide this engagement between the U.S. and Colombian governments, the report provides 19 recommendations aimed at addressing the concerns. It also notes the U.S. government’s commitment to assess any progress by Colombia within nine months, and thereafter as appropriate.

Published within 180 days of initiating a review of the matter, the report demonstrates the OTLA’s streamlined and timely review of labor submissions received under U.S. trade agreements.

The report also reflects the department’s important role in monitoring and enforcing the labor provisions of U.S. trade agreements to help support a strong U.S. trade policy in which no country gains an unfair advantage and U.S. workers and businesses compete on a level global playing field.

For more information about the OTLA’s trade enforcement work, visit

For more information about the department’s work in Colombia, visit

Read this news release en españól.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
January 11, 2017
Release Number
Media Contact: Egan Reich
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