U.S. cites Honduras for labor violations under trade treaty
WASHINGTON Feb 27 (Reuters) - Honduras has failed to enforce basic worker protections as required under the terms of a free trade agreement with the United States, the Department of Labor said on Friday after a nearly three-year investigation.
A department report said that some companies in Honduras have restricted unions, fired labor leaders, failed to pay minimum wage and continued to employ underage workers.
No sanctions or punishments were announced, but U.S. officials pledged to work with the government of Honduras to improve conditions. A review will be conducted in a year "to consider further appropriate action," the department said in a statement.
The U.S. investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by U.S. and Honduran labor groups alleging that Honduras had failed to live up to the labor standards set by the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement.
The report comes as the Obama administration is trying to push a new trade treaty with Asian and Pacific nations through the Congress. Opponents have argued that the administration has not done enough to enforce the labor and other standards set in prior trade treaties.
The AFL-CIO, which filed the initial complaint along with Honduran organizations, said it welcomed the report, but criticized the length of time it took.
"The delay is yet another reminder that our government is operating under a broken trade model and it's failing to protect labor rights," union President Richard Trumka said in an e-mailed statement.
(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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