US Department of Labor report finds Dominican Republic’s sugar industry workers face unsafe, unfair working conditions; enforcement challenges
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced publication of its seventh report detailing ongoing concerns about egregious working conditions and labor law enforcement challenges in the Dominican Republic’s sugar industry.
While the country’s Ministry of Labor and sugar companies have made important progress, concerns remain about dangerous working conditions, verification of pay and hours, unsuitable living conditions, workers’ precarious legal status and other potential labor rights abuses.
“The Department of Labor remains committed to improving conditions for workers in the Dominican Republic by building on longstanding cooperation to address enforcement and outreach challenges,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “Our extensive engagement on these issues protects the rights of workers in the Dominican Republic and in the U.S. by combating unfair competition with exploited labor.”
In addition to visits by other U.S. government officials, department officials have made nine visits to the Dominican Republic since 2011. During their March 2022 visit, they spoke to more than 200 field workers, government and company officials, unions and other civil society groups countrywide.
Today's publication is the latest in a series of periodic reports since a 2013 Report of Review issued by the department in response to a submission filed under the Labor Chapter of the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. The 2013 report identified labor concerns in the Dominican Republic’s sugar industry and provided its government with recommendations to improve enforcement of Dominican labor laws.
These reports offer ways for the Dominican Republic’s government and other stakeholders to improve working conditions and labor law enforcement. This guidance will help inform ongoing U.S. government engagement and technical assistance.