On July 18, 2016, the Department of Labor published in the Federal Register a notice stating that on July 15, 2016, the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) accepted for review Submission #2016-02 regarding Colombia pursuant to Article 17.5.5 of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA). On May 16, 2015, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and five Colombian workers’ and civil society organizations provided a formal submission to OTLA alleging violations of Chapter 17 (the Labor Chapter) of the CTPA by the Government of Colombia (GOC). The submission alleges that the GOC has failed to effectively enforce its labor laws through a sustained and recurring course of action or inaction in a manner that affects trade or investment; waived or otherwise derogated from its statutes or regulations in a manner affecting trade or investment; failed to adopt and maintain in its statutes and regulations, and practices thereunder, the rights as stated in the International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (ILO Declaration); failed to ensure the proceedings in its administrative, judicial, or labor tribunals are transparent and do not entail unwarranted delays; and failed to ensure that final decisions in such proceedings are made available without undue delay.
OTLA’s decision to accept the submission for review does not indicate any determination as to the validity or accuracy of the allegations contained in the submission. The objective of the review will be to gather information so that OTLA can better understand the allegations contained in the submission and publicly report on the issues raised therein in light of the GOC’s obligations under the Labor Chapter of the CTPA. As set out in the Procedural Guidelines (published as 71 Fed. Reg. 76691, December 21, 2006), OTLA will complete the review and issue a public report to the Secretary of Labor within 180 days of this acceptance, unless circumstances, as determined by OTLA, require an extension of time.