wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06SANJOSE612 2006-03-16 22:35:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Jose
Cable title:  

COSTA RICA: PROPOSED LABOR PROJECTS UNDER CAFTA-DR

Tags:   EAID ETRD ELAB CS 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  					
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SAN JOSE 000612

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/PPC MIKE PUCCETTI AND DRL/IL PAT DEL
VECCHIO
PASS TO USDOL FOR JANE RICHARDS
USAID/LAC/RSD BARRY MACDONALD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ETRD ELAB CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: PROPOSED LABOR PROJECTS UNDER CAFTA-DR
IMPLEMENTATION INITIATIVE

REF: STATE 26123

Embassy San Jose submits the following projects for
departmental consideration under CAFTA-DR mandated trade
capacity building implementation, pending ratification of
CAFTA-DR by the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly. Per
instructions received by post ESTH officer, project proposals
related to environmental issues will be submitted via email.



--------------------------


MODERNIZATION OF LABOR INSPECTION DIRECTORATE


--------------------------



--Labor law enforcement in Costa Rica is poor due to an
understaffed and under-equipped inspections directorate.
Modernization of the labor inspection office would increase
individual officer efficiency, improve violation tracking,
and improve response time for reported labor abuses and
violations. At a minimum, the Ministry estimates that each
of the six regional inspection offices must be provided with
two inspection vehicles, updated computer equipment, and
network connectivity. In addition, labor inspectors would be
more effective in recording and reporting labor violations if
equipped with laptop computers.
--Budget: The Ministry has not developed a comprehensive
budget for the equipment and training necessary to carry out
the modernization proposals, but estimates the cost for 12
vehicles, 24 desktop computers, 30 laptop computers and six
fax machines at approximately USD 365,000. Additional
expenses for communications upgrades, software development
and office security necessary for the modernization would be
approximately USD 200,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve labor law compliance, reduce
incidence of child labor, improve workplace safety and
identify vulnerable or exploited laborers through a more
robust inspections regime.



--------------------------


TRAINING JUDGES IN LABOR LAW


--------------------------



--Because of outdated legal procedures and a lack of
institutional labor law understanding, labor disputes in
Costa Rica routinely take several years to resolve. In order
to improve both efficiency and credibility within the system,
the Judicial School of Costa Rica seeks to implement labor
law and rights training for judges involved in labor issues.
Directors of the school first propose to initiate the
training locally for an estimated 90 magistrates. A second,
more ambitious phase of the project would involve forming a
team of labor law experts, who would conduct training
seminars in each of the other Central American countries.
The regional training project would focus on regional issues
and CAFTA-DR compliance, helping to ensure consistent
application of legal principles throughout the trade zone.
Implementation of the local project would require technical
assistance, materials development and reproduction, and
training facilities. Additional requirements for the
regional team include travel and lodging expenses, materials
shipment, facilities and daily meals for participants.
--Budget: Local program budget is estimated at USD 25,000 for
three seminars spread over a ten month period. Regional
training program budget is estimated at USD 250,000, which
assumes all costs to be borne by the project, with no
contributions from individual host countries.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Strengthen labor rights enforcement
and speed resolution of labor dispute cases. Promote
region-wide consistency in application of labor law as it
relates to CAFTA-DR implementation and enforcement.



--------------------------



--------------------------


NORMALIZING MIGRANT WORKER FLOW (GUEST WORKER PROGRAM)


--------------------------



--------------------------



--The Ministry has proposed to implement a guest worker
program in conjunction with the government of Nicaragua,
under which the GOCR establishes annual or seasonal labor
needs by sector (primarily agricultural), and then
communicates those needs to the GON, which would locate
laborers and assist with border crossing issues. The
Ministry reports that local business owners agree in
principle with the project proposal, as it would allow them
to hire seasonal laborers without resorting to black market
recruiters and subjecting them to exorbitant fines.
Concerning worker benefits, the Ministry insists that the
migrant workers would be entitled to full protection under
local labor laws, including minimum wage, medical insurance
and disability coverage, and work schedule restrictions.
--Budget: Implementation is anticipated to last two years,
with an estimated cost of USD 1.5 million.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve government oversight of
migrant laborers, increase worker protections, reduce illicit
migratory labor.



--------------------------


TRIPARTITE LABOR INSPECTION WORKSHOPS


--------------------------


--For this project, the Ministry proposes to undertake a
six-month dialog between business groups, labor
organizations, and the Ministry of Labor in order to increase
tripartite understanding of the mission and goals of the
labor inspection regime and how preventive inspection differs
from investigative or punitive inspection, to ensure mutual
understanding of workers' rights, and to help refine the
inspection process to better serve the needs of business
owners and workers. The proposal calls for regional
workshops including 50 participants from the business and
labor organizations, and 15 participants from the Ministry.
Further, the project calls for individual labor rights
training of several representatives from each sector, three
times annually for five years.
--Budget: The estimated budget for the project is USD 175,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Open lines of communication between
organized labor, government and business organizations.
Strengthen labor law compliance and improve workplace safety.



--------------------------


ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS TO LABOR INSPECTORS


--------------------------



--Under the proposed system, employers could submit, via the
Ministry of Labor's internet site, annual updates on
employment practices, including demographic makeup of the
workforce, work schedules, pay rates, overtime compensation
paid, medical issues, accidents, etc. Using the submitted
data, labor inspectors could maintain current employment data
on a large number of employers, which would ease the periodic
inspection process. Because a comparatively small number of
businesses are physically inspected each year, the electronic
submissions would help the labor inspection unit maintain
current data and allow it to track anomalies within an
individual business or industry. Costs of the project would
be primarily software development and employer education, and
would have to be implemented in tandem with inspection
modernization.
--Estimated cost of the project for software development,
training and implementation is USD 100,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Increase efficiency of the labor
inspection process, thereby increasing compliance with local
labor legislation.



--------------------------



--------------------------


NATIONAL INDEX OF WORKPLACE VULNERABILITY (BY INDUSTRY)


--------------------------



--------------------------



--The Labor Ministry intends to develop a national index of
industries with high probability of labor law violations and
workplace accidents and injuries, which will enable it to
better allocate limited inspection resources to enhance
protection of workers in these industries. Specific labor
markets identified in the project are manufacturing,
agriculture, cattle ranching and fishing.
--The proposed budget of USD 80,000 assumes existing assets
will be used in the collection and evaluation of the
necessary data and in the training of labor inspectors for
the duration of the one-year project.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve workplace safety and labor
law compliance in those industries where violations are most
likely.



--------------------------



--------------------------


PROMOTING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY IN AGRICULTURE


--------------------------



--------------------------



--According to Ministry statistics, fifty percent of
agricultural workers are not covered by the national worker's
compensation program, and occupational safety measures are
routinely ignored by the industry. The three-year plan
proposed by the Ministry identifies several goals:
incorporating occupational health standards into the national
fisheries program; establishment of an inter-institutional
commission to design and implement an occupational health
model for the agricultural sector; establishment of a legal
framework for monitoring and enforcing health and safety
requirements in agriculture; and training officials from the
major agricultural councils in occupational health and safety
policy and implementation.
--Budget: Estimated cost for the three year project is USD
1.5 million.
--U.S. Policy: Implement occupational safety standards in
previously overlooked sectors of the Costa Rican Economy.



--------------------------

--
IMPROVING CONDITIONS FOR MIGRANT COFFEE WORKERS


--------------------------

--
--The Child Labor Eradication Office of the Ministry of Labor
proposes improving the living and working conditions of
migrant indigenous families from Panama, reducing or
eliminating the need for children to work in the coffee
plantations. The project calls for heightened inspections of
work and living conditions on the plantations, seminars aimed
at increasing workers' knowledge of their rights under the
law, working with local communities to better integrate the
migrant worker population, and establishment of a child care
center for migrant children.
--Budget: The estimated cost for the project is USD 350,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduce child labor in agriculture,
improve human rights protections for a high-risk population
of workers.



--------------------------


CHILD LABOR EDUCATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS


--------------------------



--Proposed by the Child Labor Eradication Office, this
project would identify 20 municipalities with the highest
incidence of child labor and provide training in each
location to the mayor, five members of the municipal council,
and ten administrative and technical officers. It is hoped
that by working from the top down to increase sensitivity to
child labor issues, the municipality will be better able to
monitor and address local conditions that contribute to
elevated child labor incidence.
--Budget: The proposed budget for the project is USD 35,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduction in child labor,
particularly in agriculture, one of the worst forms of child
labor.



--------------------------

--
REMOVING CHILDREN FROM STREET LABOR IN SAN JOSE


--------------------------

--

--Of the estimated 35,000 child laborers in the San Jose
metropolitan area, OATIA proposes to identify 1,000 children
working in the streets, and reintegrate them into a stable
family and school environment. Goals for the project
include: 75 percent success rate in reintegrating the 1,000
identified children into school; educating the parents of the
working children and helping them to find alternate sources
of income; and alerting the general public that patronizing
child workers encourages child labor. Project implementation
calls for establishment of a child labor hotline, providing
education (from basic literacy to business management) and
small business loans to affected families, and providing
basic health services to the working children and their
families.
--Budget: Estimated budget for population identification,
project implementation and evaluation is USD 110,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Remove children from dangerous
working conditions on the streets, help families become
financially independent, encourage small business development.



--------------------------


COMMUNITY-BASED CHILD WELFARE COMMITTEES


--------------------------



--UNICEF-administered program initiated in 2005, which
utilizes the country's existing community development network
to monitor and report situations of child labor and school
dropouts. Costa Rica has in place a national network of
community development committees, with one committee
established for every 100 households. Volunteer members are
trained to assist other community members in developing
business opportunities and reporting local utility, road and
infrastructure problems. UNICEF proposes to establish within
each of these committees a subcommittee devoted to children's
issues. Specifically, two or three members on each committee
would be trained to identify and report child labor
situations in the community. In addition, these members
receive training in spotting child abuse warning signs and
school truancy, and have the materials and expertise
necessary to bring such situations to the attention of
appropriate governmental authorities. The pilot project,
which began in 2005, has already established 260 child
welfare boards and is anticipated to last three additional
years, with the goal of removing 6,000 children from work
environments in the San Jose and Desamparados regions of the
Central Valley.
--The estimated budget for the program is USD 605,000.
UNICEF is funding up to USD 200,000, leaving a budget
shortfall of USD 405,000.
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduce child labor using existing
national network, and increase local awareness of child labor
issues.
NOTE: This last project is the only active program on the
list. UNICEF requires funding as soon as possible in order
to successfully complete the project.
LANGDALE