Politico | 20 June 2016
Guatemala labor case drags on
By Brian Mahoney
A long-running dispute over Guatemala’s compliance with the labor provisions in the Central American Free Trade Agreement won’t be resolved soon. An arbitration panel recently told the U.S. and Guatemala that it would need to delay its ruling, POLITICO’s Adam Behsudi has learned.
The original ruling was scheduled to be submitted by June 22 but now will be delayed until Sept. 9. The case has since the beginning proceeded at a poky pace. The AFL-CIO and Guatemalan labor organizations filed a petition back in 2009. An initial case was brought in 2011, but that was put on hold to see whether Guatemala could meet a “labor action plan.” It couldn’t, so the U.S. restarted proceedings against Guatemala in 2014. But in Nov. 2015 a panel member was replaced, slowing the process yet again.
“We find it incredible that this case, already more than eight years old, is being delayed once again,” said Celeste Drake, trade and globalization policy expert at the AFL-CIO. “This delay sends the message that Guatemalan employers can continue to abuse and exploit workers with impunity.” Drake added that the delay “flies in the face of promises being made about ‘strong enforcement’ of the TPP.”