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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06SANSALVADOR636
2006-03-08 20:38:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy San Salvador
Cable title:  

CORRECTED COPY - EL SALVADOR PRIORITIES FOR LABOR

Tags:   EAID  ETRD  LAB  SENV  ES  CAFTA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0023
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #0636/01 0672038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 082038Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1401
INFO RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 4189
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 1943
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 3379
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 0577
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 0514
						UNCLAS SAN SALVADOR 000636 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT OF LABOR FOR JRICHARDS
USAID/LAC/RSD FOR BMACDONALD
STATE FOR WHA/PPC - MIKE PUCCETTI; DRL/IL - PATT DEL VECCIO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ETRD LAB SENV ES CAFTA
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY - EL SALVADOR PRIORITIES FOR LABOR
PROJECTS THAT SUPPORT CAFTA-DR IMPLEMENTATION

REF: SECSTATE 26123

UNCLAS SAN SALVADOR 000636

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT OF LABOR FOR JRICHARDS
USAID/LAC/RSD FOR BMACDONALD
STATE FOR WHA/PPC - MIKE PUCCETTI; DRL/IL - PATT DEL VECCIO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ETRD LAB SENV ES CAFTA
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY - EL SALVADOR PRIORITIES FOR LABOR
PROJECTS THAT SUPPORT CAFTA-DR IMPLEMENTATION

REF: SECSTATE 26123


1. Summary: Per reftel, this cable provides Post
priorities for CAFTA-DR labor-related trade capacity
building (TCB) activities for FY 2006. The proposals
described here build upon a consultative process that began
almost six months ago and reflect a consensus view on El
Salvador's key labor needs. They are:
-- Strengthening the Public Defender's Office in El
Salvador: $900,000.
-- Strengthening Labor Justice in El Salvador: $600,000.
-- Strengthening Labor Justice in CAFTA-DR countries:
$7,900,000.
-- Strengthening Private Labor Standards and Alternative
Dispute Resolution: $4,000,000.
-- Strengthening Ministry of Labor Functions in CAFTA-DR
countries: $4,000,000.
A separate cable contains post's summary of CAFTA-DR
environment needs. See concluding comment para 61. End
Summary.


2. Nearly six months ago, Post began a consultative
process to identify key labor trade capacity needs in El
Salvador for FY 2006 and beyond. This process consisted of
consultations with governments, regional integration
institutions, and the private sector identified several
priority needs. Post also relied heavily on the recently
completed USAID assessment on labor justice in CAFTA-DR
countries.


3. The proposals presented here represent a consensus view
among these parties of key USG projects that will help El
Salvador and other countries in the region meet the
requirements of CAFTA-DR labor provisions. Post recognizes
that El Salvador is, in many ways, in a unique position vis-
a-vis other CAFTA-DR countries in its efforts to implement
CAFTA-DR and its relationship with the United States. El
Salvador led the fight within the region for ratification by
Central American signatories. El Salvador was the first
country for which the treaty entered into force with the
U.S. (on March 1, 2006). Also, the U.S. Mission in El
Salvador has a strong regional presence and serves as the
base for regional offices of USG agencies such as Department

of Commerce and USAID. As a result, the proposals presented
here include both some that focus exclusively on El Salvador
and some that recognize the benefits of working regionally
to address labor issues of concern to El Salvador and its
neighbors.

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

4. TITLE: Strengthening the Public Defender's Office in
El Salvador
-------------- --------------


5. PURPOSE: This activity identifies priorities for
strengthening the Public Defender's Office in El Salvador,
enabling it to provide effective representation in labor
cases, and provide labor mediation services throughout the
country.


6. DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: The Public Defender's
Office in El Salvador (Procuraduria General de la Republica)
is an independent governmental institution that has the
constitutional mandate to provide legal assistance to
persons who cannot afford representation of their legal
rights, including labor rights. The PGR enjoys high regard
in the country and is perceived as neutral, despite funding
and infrastructure limitations plaguing all public entities.


7. USAID has worked with the Public Defender's Office to
strengthen its criminal defense division, and there is
potential for using this as a building block for
strengthening its legal support division in labor law. The
institution's Unit for the Defense of Workers' Rights has a
National Coordination Office, 15 paralegals, and 49 Labor
Public Defenders in 15 regional offices throughout the
country. Once requested, workers can receive representation
during both the administrative and judicial process;
however, the time to actually assign an attorney to a worker
can take up to 25 days which can be prejudicial to time-
sensitive cases. There is a need to strengthen the legal
teams' expertise with labor law and jurisprudence, as well
as improve administrative management.



8. The Public Defender's Office is a leader in the
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) field in El Salvador
and has incorporated mediation into all of its regional
offices, mostly to help resolve family and community
disputes. Labor cases are rarely referred to the Mediation
Centers, in part because there has never been an effort to
hire and train labor mediators. With its regional offices
and two mobile mediation units, a new labor mediation
function offers the opportunity to increase access to labor
mediation in the country.


9. Expected Results:

-- Increased capacity in the PGR to represent clients on
labor issues.
-- Strong labor mediation function established in the PGR's
regional and mobile offices.


10. Specific Activities:

-- Provide labor law training to the PGR. With training,
the PGR has the potential to extend its successful support
for criminal cases to the labor area. In addition USAID
will also provide technical support to improve operations,
so that the PGR can more rapidly respond to requests for
legal assistance.

-- Establish a strong labor mediation function in the PGR's
regional operations. USAID assistance will contribute to
the creation of a dedicated and trained cadre of
professionals that can quickly identify the nature of
conflicts, recognize the issues and find remedies. USAID
will support staff training on best management practices
such as: developing procedure manuals, operating formats,
profiles for mediators and conciliators, oversight
mechanisms, how the unit functions, quality registries,
record-keeping, utilization of statistics and indicators for
planning, follow-up and evaluation of mediation programs.
Support will also examine legal/regulatory barriers to
effective alternative dispute resolution, and possible
remedies.


11. U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES: Concern about the ability of
CAFTA-DR countries to guarantee internationally-recognized
labor rights was a significant concern during the passage of
the agreement. In a side agreement to the treaty, the
signatories committed to improve labor conditions and
increase compliance with labor laws. This program supports
El Salvador's efforts to achieve this critical foreign
policy goal.


12. NEW/PREVIOUS WORK: USAID has focused its efforts on
improving transparency, efficiency and timely responses in
certain judicial system functions by promoting the use of
alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms - in
particular mediation. This support has been directed mostly
at the PGR and has included strategic planning with
implementing entities, implementation and construction of
the ADR Centers, and extensive training of mediators. In
the past experience, these efforts have dealt with civil
cases that do not include labor grievances. Taking
advantage of this successful platform, USAID proposes to
extend its successful partnership with the PGR to labor law
and mediation.


13. COST: $900,000 of FY 2006 funds.


14. LOCAL BUY-IN: The National Commission for the
Coordination of the Justice Sector, a coordinating body
among the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Public
Defender, the Minister of Governance, and the National
Council of the Judiciary, has identified the promotion of
ADR as one of their main priorities for the next five years
and formally designated the Public Defender's Office as the
responsible government entity. The Public Defender's
mediation program is supported by the National Mediation
Coordination Unit which offers guidance and oversight to its
regional offices. The Public Defender's Office has
expressed an interest in strengthening its labor-related
functions.


15. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGIES: Given the opportunity to
strengthen an organization with a proven record of success,
the activities described represent an important partnership

between the US Government and El Salvador. They demonstrate
that government commitments made during the CAFTA-DR process
to improve labor conditions and have available working
mechanisms for speedy and successful resolution of labor
conflicts are serious. For public diplomacy, therefore,
these activities will support US credibility in El Salvador.

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

16. TITLE: Strengthening Labor Justice in El Salvador
-------------- --------------


17. PURPOSE: This activity identifies priorities for
strengthening key judiciary functions related to labor
justice in El Salvador.


18. DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: As in other countries
throughout the region, compliance with labor law in El
Salvador is deficient. The judiciary lacks adequate
technical capacity in conciliation, oral proceedings, and
handling small claims; needs upgraded literacy in labor law
and jurisprudence; and suffers from administrative
mismanagement and allegations of corruption.


19. There are several obstacles to effective administration
of labor justice specific to the judiciary in El Salvador.
The key problem is the lack of training in labor law of
labor judges and judges of mixed competency located in
judicial districts isolated from urban centers. Moreover, a
variety of legal process protections for workers are ignored
in practice, improperly disallowing oral proceedings,
skipping the conciliation stage of labor cases, and
dismissing labor complaints on technicalities.


20. Expected Results:

-- Key judiciary functions reformed, including conciliation
and oral proceedings.
-- Professional qualification requirements established and
judicial system operators trained in labor law and labor
justice system operations.
-- Electronic case management, trial management, and
jurisprudence systems implemented, enabling the judiciary to
resolve labor cases faster and more effectively, and
providing information needed for other reforms.
-- Strengthened judicial capacity in judicial districts
outside of urban centers.


21. Specific Activities:

-- This activity will strengthen judiciary procedures,
increase staff qualifications, and implement electronic case
management in El Salvador. This effort will complement the
proposed regional activity (Paragraph 27) and focus
additional USG assistance on reform of judicial
institutions, capacity building, and information
communication technology. It will also build on El
Salvador's limited but growing expertise in alternative
dispute resolution, and provide assistance for further
training and institutional development.
-- Strengthen capacity in judicial districts outside of
urban centers. Outside of urban centers, judges hear a
variety of legal matters (civil, penal, family, labor) and
need additional tools. USAID will provide additional
training in managing oral hearings, conciliation techniques,
and international treaties to judges of mixed competency.
In addition and on a pilot basis, the program will support
creation of a mobile court facility to provide outreach to
remote areas of the country.


22. U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES: Concern about the ability of
CAFTA-DR countries to guarantee internationally-recognized
labor rights was a significant concern during the passage of
the agreement. In a side agreement to the treaty, the
signatories committed to improve labor conditions and
increase compliance with labor laws. This program supports
El Salvador's efforts to achieve this US foreign policy
goal.


23. NEW/PREVIOUS WORK: Reform of judicial institutions will
extend USAID's efforts in human rights and criminal cases to
the labor justice area. The case management component will
build on the successful USAID and US Department of Labor
experiences with electronic case management systems in
Ministries of Labor in the region, as well as USAID's

experience implementing case management for the Guatemalan
criminal court. USAID successfully piloted the creation of
a mobile court facility to serve rural regions in Guatemala,
which holds promise for a similar institution in El
Salvador.


24. COST: $600,000 is needed in FY 2006 to strengthen
courts of mixed competency and pilot a mobile court
facility. It is also anticipated that El Salvador will
receive approximately $900,000 from the region-wide program
for strengthening labor justice in CAFTA-DR Countries, (see
paragraph 27) for case management, technical assistance,
training, and commodity support.


25. LOCAL BUY-IN: Interviews with Supreme Court and other
court officials and administrators, judicial school and
university professors and administrators, Labor Ministries,
industry associations, labor unions, human rights
organizations and independent labor experts in all six CAFTA-
DR countries generated the recommendations described here,
compiled in a recent USAID assessment. This program is also
reflective of priorities in the labor White Paper.


26. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGIES: Activities described
extend the commitment to improving access to labor justice
and increasing compliance with the law beyond more developed
urban centers. Making good on these commitments in
partnership with the Government of El Salvador strengthens
the credibility of the US among historically underserved
populations.

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

27. TITLE: Strengthening Labor Justice in CAFTA-DR
Countries
-------------- --------------


28. PURPOSE: This activity will help governments in the
CAFTA-DR countries strengthen the labor justice function
through institutional reform, training, and implementation
of effective case management in the judicial branch.


29. DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: While labor laws on the
books in the CAFTA-DR countries are generally adequate,
labor protection provisions are often violated, and it is
difficult for workers to get relief in a timely and
equitable manner through the justice system. The judiciary
lacks technical capacity in conciliation, oral proceedings,
and handling small claims; needs to better understand labor
law and jurisprudence; and suffers from administrative
mismanagement and allegations of corruption.


30. USAID will support institutional change in judiciary
institutions across the region. Strengthening conciliation
and oral proceedings will increase access to justice and
expedite settlements. To professionalize the judiciary,
USAID will support personnel system reforms that establish
minimum standards for legal literacy in labor law for
different job categories. This will create incentives for
staff and other participants in the labor justice system to
participate in training. USAID will strengthen training
institutions to sustain this effort.


31. In looking at judicial reform it is difficult to know
where the real bottlenecks are since there is no systematic
way of tracking labor cases. As a first step, USAID will
support improved case management systems and a strengthened
court clerk function as essential prerequisites for ensuring
that the judicial system is able to enforce labor laws
effectively. These systems will introduce transparency and
facilitate efficient administrative management.


32. Expected Results:
-- Electronic case management, trial management, and
jurisprudence systems implemented in all CAFTA-DR countries,
enabling the judiciary to resolve labor cases faster and
more effectively, and providing information needed for other
reforms.
-- Key judiciary functions reformed, including conciliation
and oral proceedings.
-- Professional qualification requirements established and
judicial system operators trained in labor law and labor
justice system operations.


33. Specific Activities:


-- Design/implement electronic case management for the
judiciary. This component will integrate case management
into Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems,
providing hardware, software, networks, and other
infrastructure to the judiciary, establish judiciary ICT
support offices, and provide technical training for users of
the system. Case management, trial management, and
jurisprudence systems will be introduced, and the judiciary
and Labor Ministry case tracking systems will be linked to
ensure cases are followed throughout the entire process.

-- Strengthen the judiciary's use of conciliation and oral
proceedings. To improve the conciliation function, USAID
will support changing court procedures, training judges and
clerks on conciliation techniques, and renovating office
space to create privacy for sensitive discussions. Similar
assistance will address oral proceedings/small claims.

-- Establishing professional qualification requirements in
the judiciary. Judges and clerks, Ministry of Labor staff
will seek training to upgrade their labor law. USAID will
support creation of labor law training capacity in the
Judicial Schools (national bodies that train court
personnel), as well as other institutions like law schools.


34. U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES: Concern about the ability of
CAFTA-DR countries to guarantee internationally-recognized
labor rights was a significant concern during the passage of
the agreement. In a side agreement to the treaty, the
signatories committed to improve labor conditions and
increase compliance with labor laws. This program supports
the CAFTA-DR countries' efforts to achieve this critical US
foreign policy goal.


35. NEW/PREVIOUS WORK: Reform of judicial institutions
will extend USAID's judicial reform efforts in human rights
and criminal cases to the labor justice area. The case
management component can build on the successful USAID and
US Department of Labor experiences with electronic case
management systems in Ministries of Labor across the region,
as well as USAID's experience implementing case management
for the Guatemalan criminal court.


36. COST: $7.9 million of FY 2006 funding is required for
this effort. Of this sum, an estimated $900,000 each would
be allocated for Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua to support
implementation of case management systems, although amounts
could be reallocated depending on country needs and
absorptive capacity. The remainder would support the other
elements of this activity.


37. LOCAL BUY-IN: Interviews with Supreme Court and other
court officials and administrators, judicial school and
university professors and administrators, Labor Ministries,
industry associations, labor unions, human rights
organizations and independent labor experts in all six CAFTA-
DR countries generated the recommendations described here,
compiled in a recent USAID assessment. Local buy-in also
has been ensured through ongoing relationships at USAID
Missions throughout the region. This program is reflective
of priorities in the White Paper.


38. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGIES: Activities described
represent a high profile partnership between the US
Government and the governments of the region in modernizing
their systems, improving access to labor justice, and
increasing compliance with the law. They demonstrate that
government commitments made during the CAFTA-DR process to
improve labor conditions in the region are serious. For
public diplomacy, therefore, these activities should
generate a big win for US credibility in the region.

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

39. TITLE: Strengthening Private Labor Standards and
Alternative Dispute Resolution
-------------- --------------


40. PURPOSE: This activity will work through a public-
private alliance to expand the use of and compliance with
private labor standards and strengthen non-governmental
dispute resolution centers, leveraging public funds with
private sector resources.



41. DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: With China poised to
dominate world apparel markets, many multinational retailers
are anxious to ensure that CAFTA-DR countries offer a
competitive alternative source of supply. Labor
productivity and quality assurance are keys to the region's
competitiveness, and are a direct result of existing labor
relations and workplace conditions. Moreover, multinational
companies have strong incentives to address poor labor
practices by their suppliers in Central America that
threaten the international reputation of their brands. For
these reasons, the private sector has sought to raise labor
standards in the region, supporting a range of company-
specific and industry-wide standards, bolstered by large
investments in private labor inspection and monitoring.


42. In many cases, multinationals have greater leverage on
labor standard compliance than state regulators. The
"carrot" of multimillion dollar sales contracts dwarfs the
"stick" of administrative fines imposed by governments.
Also, corporate buyers' labor standards are uniform across
the region whereas government regulators are hamstrung by
the ability of manufacturers to shift production across the
border to avoid stricter standards and enforcement in any
one country. USAID support of alliances of multinational
buyers, locally-based suppliers, business associations,
labor unions, human rights groups, and government to
strengthen private sector labor standards offers a way to
expand impact and build a culture of compliance beyond
support to government institutions and leverage resources
while doing so.


43. Similarly, private institutions offer speedier, less
costly alternatives to the courts for individual and
collective dispute resolution. Integrating these functions
into company human resource management offers opportunities
as well. Continued US Government assistance could broaden
the impact of these private sector efforts and make them
sustainable.



44. Expected Results

-- Increased compliance with private labor standards by
apparel manufacturers.
-- Labor standard alliances established and compliance
increased in other industries.
-- Strengthened non-governmental institutions participating
in compliance monitoring, dispute resolution, and training.
-- Labor Ministries understand private sector labor
standards and utilize opportunities to promote adherence and
more effectively use limited government inspection
resources.


45. Specific Activities:

-- Work with standard setting alliances to help supplier
factories develop systems for continuous improvement in
labor standards and compliance. USAID has been piloting
work with a public-private alliance (see New/Previous Work,
below) to train workers and managers on their rights and
obligations and to implement preventive conflict resolution
in the workplace. Companies are also counseled on
integrating labor concerns into human resource management
systems. USAID, in partnership with alliance members, will
expand this work, roll it out across the region, and
introduce it into other industry sectors.

-- Provide technical assistance, training, and grants to non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide services
related to compliance monitoring, dispute resolution, and
training. A broad variety of universities, technical
institutes, student law clinics, community mediation
centers, NGOs, industry and labor groups, and other
organizations have grown up to support conciliation,
mediation, labor audit and inspection, specialized services
related to gender issues in the workplace, training on labor
standards and labor law, and other labor standard compliance
services. USAID will support civil society organizations
with technical assistance on service expansion, financial
management, and other management functions to ensure
sustainability, as well as limited grant support.

-- Promote constructive social dialogue to build a culture
of compliance. In a region where frictions over labor

conditions have underlayed not only company-union disputes
but violent civil conflict, social dialogue to promote a
shared commitment to labor standard compliance and dispute
resolution is essential. USAID will roll out and expand on
pilot efforts to work with multinational buyers, in-country
manufacturers, standard-setting organizations, labor unions,
government, and others to build a shared commitment to
raising labor standards, based on a shared interest in
competitiveness in order to increase exports and create or
preserve jobs.


46. U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES: Concern about the ability of
CAFTA-DR countries to guarantee internationally-recognized
labor rights was of particular interest during the passage
of the agreement. In a side agreement to the treaty, the
signatories committed to improve labor conditions and
increase compliance with labor laws. This program supports
the CAFTA-DR countries' efforts to achieve this critical US
foreign policy goal.


47. NEW/PREVIOUS WORK: This program will build on the work
supported by a USAID regional pilot program that has been
working in alliance with the private sector and labor to
improve working conditions in the Central American apparel
and textile industry. The Continuous Improvement in the
Central American Workplace (CIMCAW) Alliance works
throughout the CAFTA-DR region, with partners including Gap
Inc., the International Federation of Textile Workers,
Social Accountability International, and Development
Alternatives, Inc. The program trains managers and workers
to improve social responsibility compliance while improving
competitiveness in quality and productivity, including
collaboration with the Corporacion de Zonas Francas in
Nicaragua, ADOZONA in the Dominican Republic, and the
Association of Honduran Maquilas. Another Alliance, with
Caribbean-Central American Action, works to communicate the
benefits of CAFTA-DR for local businesses and workers.


48. COST: $4,000,000 in FY 2006 funding is needed for this
activitiy. Of this amount $250,000 each would be allocated
to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua for technical assistance,
training, and grants to NGOs, although amounts could be
reallocated based on country need and absorptive capacity.
The remainder would support the public-private alliance,
leveraged by additional private sector contributions.


49. LOCAL BUY-IN: Private dispute resolution was
identified as the top priority for improving labor justice
in interviews with Supreme Court and high and other court
officials and administrators, judicial school and university
professors and administrators, Labor Ministries, industry
associations, labor unions, human rights organizations and
independent labor experts in all six CAFTA-DR countries,
conducted by a recent USAID assessment team. Local buy-in
has also been ensured through relationships at USAID
Missions in the region, as well as through existing
Alliances. This program is reflective of priorities in the
labor White Paper.


50. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGY: US Government support for
an alliance of high-profile multinationals together with
labor unions and other partners to improve compliance with
labor standards is likely to attract substantial public
attention. It puts the spotlight on corporate social
responsibility and ways that government, business, and civil
society can work together to improve working conditions and
competitiveness. Promoting the benefits of free trade, for
workers as well as for business, is in the US national
interest.

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

51. TITLE: Strengthening Ministry of Labor functions in
CAFTA-DR countries.
-------------- --------------


52. PURPOSE: This activity identifies priorities for
strengthening key Ministry of Labor functions in CAFTA-DR
countries through implementation of Information
Communications Technology systems.


53. DESCRIPTION AND JUSTIFICATION: As stated in the
Ministers of Trade and Labor White Paper, an efficient,
transparent and broadly credible Ministry of Labor is a

prerequisite for the effective application of labor laws.
One of the priorities identified by the ministers as a
solution to these deficiencies is the improvement of
information technology communications. Working in concert
with the US Department of Labor's Cumple y Gana program and
other donor support to the Labor Ministries, USAID will
provide the Information Communications Technology (ICT) and
in-house expertise as the backbone upon which the Labor
Ministries can reorganize operational workflows enabling
them to focus and manage key priorities such as case
tracking, statistics, planning, budgeting and financial
management, thus enhancing the authority and credibility of
the labor ministries. To ensure sustainability, transfer of
computer equipment will be dependent on the counterparts'
demonstrated commitment to finance maintenance costs and
implement management reforms.


54. Expected Results:

-- Information communications technology implemented in all
CAFTA-DR countries and linked to locations outside the
capital cities, enabling Labor Ministries to have access to
statistics on labor cases faster and more effectively.
-- Labor Ministry staff trained to support a professional
ICT Department assuring sustainability and in-house
maintenance of the system.
-- Operations outside capital cities strengthened including
support of timely historical data and company registrations
for mobile inspection teams.
-- Improved utilization of key institutional statistics
acquired through case tracking for planning and budgeting
restructuring, thereby improving inspection effectiveness
and overall efficiency.


55. Specific Activities:


-- Design/implement information communications technology
(ICT) systems for Labor Ministries. USAID will provide
hardware, software, networks, and other infrastructure to
Ministries of Labor, assistance to develop Ministry ICT
support offices, and extensive technical training for all
users of the system. Assistance will also be provided to
Labor Ministries to expand to regions beyond capital cities,
equipping and training mobile inspection units with systems
linked to central ICT systems.

-- Improve Ministry of Labor statistics for planning,
budgeting, and financial management functions using
information generated from ICT systems. USAID will support
technical assistance and training to enable Ministries to
strengthen key functions by using information generated from
ICT systems. For example, assistance will be provided to
train Ministry managers to use case tracking statistics to
allocate staff and financial resources more efficiently, and
monitor results more effectively. This will enhance the
Ministries' ability to carry out inspections effectively and
efficiently.


56. U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES: Concern about the ability of
CAFTA-DR countries to guarantee internationally-recognized
labor rights was a significant concern during passage of the
agreement. In a side agreement to the treaty, the
signatories committed to improve labor conditions and
increase compliance with labor laws. This program will
assist CAFTA-DR countries to achieve this critical US
foreign policy goal.


57. NEW/PREVIOUS WORK: USAID's efforts to implement an
information communications technology system and an
Information Technology support office for the Guatemalan
Ministry of Labor have been highly successful. Online
services now receive more than 800,000 hits per month, among
the highest of any government institution. With the
proposed activity, USAID will expand the initiative
throughout the CAFTA-DR region strengthening ministries'
information systems for improved labor compliance. USAID
will take advantage of these platforms and the US Department
of Labor's efforts, to better integrate information
technology throughout the Labor Ministries.


58. COST: $4,000,000 of FY 2006 funding is required for
this activity.


59. LOCAL BUY-IN: Interviews with Supreme Court and other

court officials andadministrators, judicial school and
university pofessors and administrators, Labor Ministries,
industry associations, labor unions, human rights
organizations and independent labor experts in all six CAFTA-
DR countries generated the recommendations described here,
as compiled in a recent USAID assessment. Local buy-in also
has been ensured through ongoing relationships at USAID
Missions throughout the region. This program is reflective
of priorities in the White Paper.


60. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY STRATEGIES: Activities described
represent a high profile partnership between the US
Government and the governments of the region in modernizing
their systems, giving Ministries of Labor the tools to
improve access to labor justice and increase compliance with
the law. They demonstrate that government commitments made
during the CAFTA-DR process to improve labor conditions in
the region are serious. These activities, therefore, will
boost US credibility in the region significantly.


61. Comment. Post appreciates the opportunity to provide
input into the identification of labor assistance
priorities. Regional buy-in to the process is of vital
importance, and we believe the activities above will bring
about the maximum benefit and compliance with the CAFTA-DR
agreement. We understand that the interagency group is
working to obligate the funding for FY2006 as equitably and
as rapidly as possible. Post hopes that future project
requests will provide as much time as possible to work with
the CAFTA-DR governments, business and NGO communities to
develop these project ideas. We also wish to ensure that
projects have the ability to access follow-on funding in
future years to make sure that commitments negotiated within
CAFTA-DR are met. Overall compliance with the letter and
the spirit of the FTA are our goals, and some projects will
require a several year commitment to see them through to
conclusion. We look forward to the backing of the
interagency group. End Comment.



Barclay