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The Colombian Labor Action Plan at Four Years: Progress and Continuing Challenges

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, a framework of commitments negotiated between the governments of the United States and Colombia to better protect worker rights, prevent violence against unionists, and punish the perpetrators of that violence in Colombia.  As the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently reported, the record under the Action Plan in these four years has been one of both progress in areas of key importance as well challenges that will require additional effort to address.  Under the Action Plan, Colombia has taken important steps to counter violence against trade unionists, including increasing resources for its National Protection Unit, prosecutors, and police investigators and beginning to bring cases against the intellectual authors of violence against labor leaders.  Colombia has also taken steps to strengthen labor laws and their enforcement, including through a ban on abuse of cooperatives.  At the same time, there are continued issues of concern, such as new forms of abusive sub-contracting, limited collection of fines for labor violations, and low levels of successful prosecutions of perpetrators of violence and threats against trade unionists.  We take these issues seriously and are committed to continuing to work closely with Colombia to address them.                                             

To that end, the Obama Administration is devoting new resources to the task.  DOL will be sending a labor attaché to be stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá later this month.  Colombia is only the second country to which DOL has sent a labor attaché, highlighting the importance this Administration places on ensuring respect for labor rights in Colombia.  The new labor attaché will be able to intensify our engagement with Colombian on areas of ongoing concern under the Action Plan and build on our important existing relationships with local Colombian stakeholders, including in the labor community.  This month, we will also continue high-level engagement with Colombia with our first meeting of 2015 (via videoconference) under the Action Plan, followed by a monitoring visit to Colombia later this year.                                                                                        

For a detailed summary of progress and remaining challenges under the Colombia Labor Action Plan, please click here.