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Cablegate: Usg-Funded Labor Rights Projects Update

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0111/01 0321411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011411Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2410
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000111

SIPDIS
USTR FOR EISSENSTAT AND HARMAN
DOL FOR ZOLLNER AND QUINTANA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID ETRD PGOV PHUM PREL USTR LAB CO
SUBJECT: USG-FUNDED LABOR RIGHTS PROJECTS UPDATE
AID,

REF: 09 BOGOTA 3031; 10 BOGOTA 49

1. Summary: The USG has allocated $33 million to improve labor
rights in Colombia through 17 projects in the 2001-2011 timeframe:
one by the Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,
and Labor (DRL), six by the Department of Labor (DOL), and ten by
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The
projects have centered on increasing labor rights awareness,
protecting labor leaders, training and building capacity among
trade unions, and eradicating child labor. Funding recipients have
been institutions that play key roles in Colombian labor relations,
such as the GOC's Ministry of Interior and Justice (MOIJ) and
Ministry of Social Protection (MPS), the International Labor
Organization (ILO), the AFL-CIO American Center for International
Solidarity (Solidarity Center), and numerous unions. Additionally,
the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has provided $12 million in
law enforcement training, equipment, and technical assistance to
the Colombian Prosecutor General's Office Human Rights Unit, which
since October 2006 has included a Labor Sub-Unit tasked with
investigating and prosecuting crimes against trade unionists. DOJ
assistance has enhanced the Labor Sub-Unit's capabilities,
particularly in murder cases, leading to higher conviction rates in
crimes against trade unionists. End summary.

PROMOTING FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND LABOR RIGHTS

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

2. DOL allocated $2 million to a project designed to improve
Colombian labor relations and gender equality in the work place.
The project, which began in February 2002 and lasted three years,
was implemented through the ILO. It included a public campaign on
fundamental principles and rights of work, focusing on collective
bargaining and freedom of association; defined and implemented best
practices in 10 key enterprises; and developed alternative systems
for labor dispute settlements. It also coordinated the design of
an employment generation and poverty reduction policy for female
heads of household, and provided business management training and
credit opportunities to women. More recently, DRL allocated
$500,000 to an ILO-managed program that promotes labor rights
through increased social dialogue. The project, which began in
September 2008 and will end in May 2010, seeks to improve
communication between government, employers, and workers. The ILO
uses the funding to support important national institutions, such
as the National Commission on Wage and Labor Policy; enhance the
judiciary's ability to address labor rights violations through
targeted training for judges; and educate government and private
sector stakeholders in conflict resolution and collective
bargaining processes.

ENHANCING SKILLS OF COLOMBIAN TRADE UNIONISTS

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

3. Between February 2002 and March 2005, 43 trade unionists
received administrative and technical training in the United States
in association with a $1.7 million, DOL grant to the Solidarity
Center. More recently, DOL dedicated $1.25 million to a
train-the-trainer exchange program for emerging labor leaders that
began in September 2008 and is slated to run through 2010.
Trainees visit unionized workplaces in the United States and
receive instruction in social dialogue, interest-based bargaining,
mediation, and arbitration, and then return to replicate the
training among their union colleagues. Twenty-seven labor leaders
completed eight-week training programs in 2009; 15 more are slated
for spring 2010. USAID has launched a complementary $1.5 million
project to strengthen organizational capacity among trade unions
and promote labor code reform through the Solidarity Center. The

three-year program began in 2009 and currently focuses on six
unions in four key sectors: ports, African palm, artisanal goods,
and food.

EXPLORING THE CAUSES OF LABOR VIOLENCE

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

4. USAID has allocated $301,000 to a United Nations Development
Program study aimed at exploring the root causes of labor violence
and promoting tripartite dialogue. Participants include Colombia's
three largest labor confederations (CUT, CGT, and CTC), the
National Union School (ENS) think tank, GOC representatives, the
National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs (ANDI), and six
research centers that will carry out the project's component
studies. Eight embassies are funding the initiative (the USG is
the largest donor). The project began in September 2009 and the
target completion date is August 2010, when UNDP will host an
international conference to present the results (reftel a).

COMBATING THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR

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

5. DOL has funded three projects aimed at eliminating the worst
forms of child labor in Colombia within the past decade. First,
DOL allocated $800,000 in 2001 to eliminating child labor in
informal-sector mining. As a result of the four-year program,
2,187 children were withdrawn or prevented from working in clay,
coal, emerald, and gold mines. Second, in 2004 DOL funded a
four-year, $3.5 million project to combat child labor in the
municipalities of Funza and Madrid. The initiative raised
awareness of child labor among parents, children, teachers, and
government officials; funded research studies on child labor; and
withdrew or prevented 6,517 children from exploitive work in
agriculture and the urban, informal sector. Third, DOL allocated $5
million in 2007 to support GOC efforts to combat child labor. The
funding provides technical support over a four-year period to
municipal and departmental governments implementing the GOC's
National Strategy for the Elimination of Child Labor. It also
establishes model school programs called "Spaces to Grow," and
conducts outreach to parents, teachers, and community leaders. So
far, the program has set up 183 model school programs and removed
and prevented 6,084 children from exploitive labor.

LABOR INSPECTION STRENGTHENING

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

6. USAID provided $1 million over the 2005-2009 period to the MPS
to support the design and implementation of a comprehensive
risk-management model for preventive labor inspections. Specific
activities included a detailed evaluation of the previous workplace
inspection system (completed in 2005), and the development of a new
inspection model emphasizing prevention, risk-analysis based
inspections, and negotiated solutions to labor conflicts.
Implementation of the new model began in 2007 with pilot programs
in five departments. It has since expanded to cover more than 60%
of the formal workforce (85% of registered firms). As a result of
the program's success, the GOC has decided to hire and train 207
new labor inspectors by the end of 2010 (currently there are 180).

PROMOTING AND STRENGTHENING LABOR RIGHTS

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

7. USAID allocated $450,000 from 2005-2009 to a study that analyzed
the consistency of Colombian legislation with ILO standards,
including recommended changes; helped design a new labor law
concerning the right to strike; conducted cost-benefit analysis of
adapting the right to strike law to the public-service sector; made
policy recommendations on the registration of industry-level
unions; and supported the development and implementation of an oral
adjudication system for labor disputes. The study, entered into by
bilateral agreement, helped to guide relevant GOC policy.

CHILD LABOR ERADICATION MODEL

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

8. USAID allocated $570,000 to combating child labor over the
2005-2009 timeframe. Activities undertaken in conjunction with
this project included an analysis of the causes of child labor;
identification of critical sectors and localities; detailed policy
recommendations; public awareness outreach seminars; and the design
of a conditional subsidies model to assist families with working
children. The MPS relied on the associated analysis and policy
recommendations to refine its strategy for eradicating child labor
and promoting greater compliance with domestic child labor laws.

FUNDAMENTAL LABOR RIGHTS DISSEMINATION

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

9. USAID allotted $100,000 in 2008 to carrying out a series of
outreach seminars in 13 Colombian cities aimed at raising public
awareness of fundamental labor rights and promoting voluntary
adoption of international labor norms, such as the SA 8000, a
global "social accountability" standard for decent working
conditions developed and overseen by Social Accountability
International (SAI). The MPS has developed a proposal for a public
policy framework to promote decent work in line with ILO standards
and recommendations based on the USAID initiative.

PROTECTING VULNERABLE LABOR LEADERS

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

10. USAID has allocated $12.4 million over ten years (2001-2011) to
support the Ministry of Interior and Justice (MOIJ) Protection
Program. The MOIJ provides soft protection (self-protection
training, mobile phones, and temporary relocations) and hard
protection measures (armoring offices and vehicles; providing
bullet-proof vests) to threatened individuals. In 2009, the MOIJ
protected 11,179 social activists, journalists, and other
vulnerable groups, including 1,550 trade union leaders, at an
annual cost of $56 million. Additionally, USAID allocated $479,000
in 2009 to support the Ombudsman's Office Early Warning System
(EWS), which monitors risk indicators so that authorities can
respond quickly to threats against civilians, including trade
unionists. USAID also allocated $40,066 to sponsor a dialogue
between the Colombia National Police (CNP) and civil society groups
in 16 cities, and worked through the CNP Inspector General to
incorporate discussions on labor rights and freedom of association
into CNP training.

LABOR OUTREACH AND COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN

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

11. USAID funded a $1 million, one-year project which began in
September 2008 aimed at developing a series of media campaigns and
outreach activities to combat the stigmatization of unions and
their leaders. The funds were used to produce a television
commercial, radio spots, and posters and flyers; support the
development of a social marketing campaign; sponsor seminars that
trained journalists on responsible labor reporting in the media;
and convene expert forums on labor rights.

DEVELOPING PROSECUTORIAL CAPACITY

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

12. As part of its law enforcement assistance program for the
Prosecutor General's Human Rights Unit, DOJ has provided ongoing
training, equipment, and technical assistance to the Labor Sub-Unit
since 2006. The Labor Sub-Unit is tasked with investigating and
prosecuting criminal cases in which victims were allegedly targeted
for their union activities. All of the Labor Sub-Unit's 19
prosecutors have received DOJ training in interviewing witnesses,
victims' rights, collecting evidence, conducting murder
investigations, preparing cases for trial, and trial techniques.
Total convictions rose significantly as a result: the Labor
Sub-Unit has obtained 184 (79%) of the total convictions against
perpetrators of anti-union crimes obtained by the Prosecutor
General's Human Rights Unit (reftel b).
BROWNFIELD

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