WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The AFL-CIO announced Wednesday that the federal government will investigate charges that the Honduran government is ignoring "repeated and well-documented violations of workers' rights."

Those charges were made in a petition filed in March by the AFL-CIO and major Honduran trade unions with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs.

OTLA is a division of the Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Its mission is to ensure that workers worldwide are treated fairly. ILAB uses all available methods to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers' ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

It accepted the AFL-CIO petition that asked the U.S. government to act according to the terms of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. The AFL-CIO maintains Honduras has failed to effectively enforce its labor laws and comply with its DR-CAFTA commitments.

AFL-CIO International Affairs Director Cathy Feingold issued a statement:

"Given the ongoing systematic violations of basic worker rights, including the firing of hundreds of workers for attempting to organize unions and the failure of employers to pay the minimum wage, the acceptance of this petition is a positive step forward in calling the government of Honduras to start protecting the rights of its own workers. The petition is the first step in the process to compel a nation to enforce its labor obligations under the DR-CAFTA. "

Feingold expressed her desire that the OTLA inquiry, "sends a message that all countries that have signed free trade agreements must comply with their obligations to enforce their own labor laws."

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