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Peru: Teacher’s union’s complaints could jeopardize FTA with US

Peru: Teacher’s Union’s complaints could jeopardize FTA with U.S.

13 March 2007

(LIP-jl) (CPN) — Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur) Mercedes Araoz expressed her concern over complaints that could be taken to international courts by Peru’s teacher’s union, SUTEP and subsequently affect the pending free trade agreement with the United States.

SUTEP representatives warned Peruvian government officials that if their union licenses and permits are not renewed shortly, they will take their case to the International Labor Organization (ILO), which is sure to cause a speed bump in the current FTA talks between the United States and Peru.

The proposed free trade agreement is currently being evaluated by U.S. Republicans and Democrats. Among the main issues that has delayed U.S. approval are the lack of guaranteed labor rights for Peruvian workers.

"This is truly concerning. Peru is a country where unions and syndicates can operate freely. No one is limiting their rights to form a union. Unfortunately, there are people within the unions whose judgments are clouded by personal interests. It seems as if they have forgotten that their obligation is with Peru’s school children," expressed Araoz.

Meanwhile, Araoz qualified U.S. President George Bush’s public support of free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, and Panama as "a great sign."

Araoz is currently meeting with U.S. Trade Representative John Veroneau to discuss and coordinate their strategy which the U.S. official will present to the American Congress upon his return.