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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE612, COSTA RICA: PROPOSED LABOR PROJECTS UNDER CAFTA-DR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE612 2006-03-16 22:10 2011-03-03 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2697430.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2697496.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697489.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697532.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697535.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2701964.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/Relacionados/Investigacion2701965.aspx
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SAN JOSE 000612 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/PPC MIKE PUCCETTI AND DRL/IL PAT DEL 
VECCHIO 
PASS TO USDOL FOR JANE RICHARDS 
USAID/LAC/RSD BARRY MACDONALD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID ETRD ELAB CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: PROPOSED LABOR PROJECTS UNDER CAFTA-DR 
IMPLEMENTATION INITIATIVE 
 
REF: STATE 26123 
 
Embassy San Jose submits the following projects for 
departmental consideration under CAFTA-DR mandated trade 
capacity building implementation, pending ratification of 
CAFTA-DR by the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly.  Per 
instructions received by post ESTH officer, project proposals 
related to environmental issues will be submitted via email. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
MODERNIZATION OF LABOR INSPECTION DIRECTORATE 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
--Labor law enforcement in Costa Rica is poor due to an 
understaffed and under-equipped inspections directorate. 
Modernization of the labor inspection office would increase 
individual officer efficiency, improve violation tracking, 
and improve response time for reported labor abuses and 
violations.  At a minimum, the Ministry estimates that each 
of the six regional inspection offices must be provided with 
two inspection vehicles, updated computer equipment, and 
network connectivity.  In addition, labor inspectors would be 
more effective in recording and reporting labor violations if 
equipped with laptop computers. 
--Budget: The Ministry has not developed a comprehensive 
budget for the equipment and training necessary to carry out 
the modernization proposals, but estimates the cost for 12 
vehicles, 24 desktop computers, 30 laptop computers and six 
fax machines at approximately USD 365,000.  Additional 
expenses for communications upgrades, software development 
and office security necessary for the modernization would be 
approximately USD 200,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve labor law compliance, reduce 
incidence of child labor, improve workplace safety and 
identify vulnerable or exploited laborers through a more 
robust inspections regime. 
 
---------------------------- 
TRAINING JUDGES IN LABOR LAW 
---------------------------- 
 
--Because of outdated legal procedures and a lack of 
institutional labor law understanding, labor disputes in 
Costa Rica routinely take several years to resolve.  In order 
to improve both efficiency and credibility within the system, 
the Judicial School of Costa Rica seeks to implement labor 
law and rights training for judges involved in labor issues. 
Directors of the school first propose to initiate the 
training locally for an estimated 90 magistrates.  A second, 
more ambitious phase of the project would involve forming a 
team of labor law experts, who would conduct training 
seminars in each of the other Central American countries. 
The regional training project would focus on regional issues 
and CAFTA-DR compliance, helping to ensure consistent 
application of legal principles throughout the trade zone. 
Implementation of the local project would require technical 
assistance, materials development and reproduction, and 
training facilities.  Additional requirements for the 
regional team include travel and lodging expenses, materials 
shipment, facilities and daily meals for participants. 
--Budget: Local program budget is estimated at USD 25,000 for 
three seminars spread over a ten month period.  Regional 
training program budget is estimated at USD 250,000, which 
assumes all costs to be borne by the project, with no 
contributions from individual host countries. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Strengthen labor rights enforcement 
and speed resolution of labor dispute cases.  Promote 
region-wide consistency in application of labor law as it 
relates to CAFTA-DR implementation and enforcement. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
NORMALIZING MIGRANT WORKER FLOW (GUEST WORKER PROGRAM) 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
--The Ministry has proposed to implement a guest worker 
program in conjunction with the government of Nicaragua, 
under which the GOCR establishes annual or seasonal labor 
needs by sector (primarily agricultural), and then 
communicates those needs to the GON, which would locate 
laborers and assist with border crossing issues.  The 
Ministry reports that local business owners agree in 
principle with the project proposal, as it would allow them 
to hire seasonal laborers without resorting to black market 
recruiters and subjecting them to exorbitant fines. 
Concerning worker benefits, the Ministry insists that the 
migrant workers would be entitled to full protection under 
local labor laws, including minimum wage, medical insurance 
and disability coverage, and work schedule restrictions. 
--Budget: Implementation is anticipated to last two years, 
with an estimated cost of USD 1.5 million. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve government oversight of 
migrant laborers, increase worker protections, reduce illicit 
migratory labor. 
 
------------------------------------- 
TRIPARTITE LABOR INSPECTION WORKSHOPS 
------------------------------------- 
--For this project, the Ministry proposes to undertake a 
six-month dialog between business groups, labor 
organizations, and the Ministry of Labor in order to increase 
tripartite understanding of the mission and goals of the 
labor inspection regime and how preventive inspection differs 
from investigative or punitive inspection, to ensure mutual 
understanding of workers' rights, and to help refine the 
inspection process to better serve the needs of business 
owners and workers.  The proposal calls for regional 
workshops including 50 participants from the business and 
labor organizations, and 15 participants from the Ministry. 
Further, the project calls for individual labor rights 
training of several representatives from each sector, three 
times annually for five years. 
--Budget: The estimated budget for the project is USD 175,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Open lines of communication between 
organized labor, government and business organizations. 
Strengthen labor law compliance and improve workplace safety. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS TO LABOR INSPECTORS 
------------------------------------------ 
 
--Under the proposed system, employers could submit, via the 
Ministry of Labor's internet site, annual updates on 
employment practices, including demographic makeup of the 
workforce, work schedules, pay rates, overtime compensation 
paid, medical issues, accidents, etc.  Using the submitted 
data, labor inspectors could maintain current employment data 
on a large number of employers, which would ease the periodic 
inspection process.  Because a comparatively small number of 
businesses are physically inspected each year, the electronic 
submissions would help the labor inspection unit maintain 
current data and allow it to track anomalies within an 
individual business or industry.  Costs of the project would 
be primarily software development and employer education, and 
would have to be implemented in tandem with inspection 
modernization. 
--Estimated cost of the project for software development, 
training and implementation is USD 100,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Increase efficiency of the labor 
inspection process, thereby increasing compliance with local 
labor legislation. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
NATIONAL INDEX OF WORKPLACE VULNERABILITY (BY INDUSTRY) 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
--The Labor Ministry intends to develop a national index of 
industries with high probability of labor law violations and 
workplace accidents and injuries, which will enable it to 
better allocate limited inspection resources to enhance 
protection of workers in these industries.  Specific labor 
markets identified in the project are manufacturing, 
agriculture, cattle ranching and fishing. 
--The proposed budget of USD 80,000 assumes existing assets 
will be used in the collection and evaluation of the 
necessary data and in the training of labor inspectors for 
the duration of the one-year project. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Improve workplace safety and labor 
law compliance in those industries where violations are most 
likely. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
PROMOTING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY IN AGRICULTURE 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
--According to Ministry statistics, fifty percent of 
agricultural workers are not covered by the national worker's 
compensation program, and occupational safety measures are 
routinely ignored by the industry.  The three-year plan 
proposed by the Ministry identifies several goals: 
incorporating occupational health standards into the national 
fisheries program; establishment of an inter-institutional 
commission to design and implement an occupational health 
model for the agricultural sector; establishment of a legal 
framework for monitoring and enforcing health and safety 
requirements in agriculture; and training officials from the 
major agricultural councils in occupational health and safety 
policy and implementation. 
--Budget: Estimated cost for the three year project is USD 
1.5 million. 
--U.S. Policy: Implement occupational safety standards in 
previously overlooked sectors of the Costa Rican Economy. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
IMPROVING CONDITIONS FOR MIGRANT COFFEE WORKERS 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
--The Child Labor Eradication Office of the Ministry of Labor 
proposes improving the living and working conditions of 
migrant indigenous families from Panama, reducing or 
eliminating the need for children to work in the coffee 
plantations.  The project calls for heightened inspections of 
work and living conditions on the plantations, seminars aimed 
at increasing workers' knowledge of their rights under the 
law, working with local communities to better integrate the 
migrant worker population, and establishment of a child care 
center for migrant children. 
--Budget: The estimated cost for the project is USD 350,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduce child labor in agriculture, 
improve human rights protections for a high-risk population 
of workers. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
CHILD LABOR EDUCATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS 
------------------------------------------- 
 
--Proposed by the Child Labor Eradication Office, this 
project would identify 20 municipalities with the highest 
incidence of child labor and provide training in each 
location to the mayor, five members of the municipal council, 
and ten administrative and technical officers.  It is hoped 
that by working from the top down to increase sensitivity to 
child labor issues, the municipality will be better able to 
monitor and address local conditions that contribute to 
elevated child labor incidence. 
--Budget:  The proposed budget for the project is USD 35,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduction in child labor, 
particularly in agriculture, one of the worst forms of child 
labor. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
REMOVING CHILDREN FROM STREET LABOR IN SAN JOSE 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
--Of the estimated 35,000 child laborers in the San Jose 
metropolitan area, OATIA proposes to identify 1,000 children 
working in the streets, and reintegrate them into a stable 
family and school environment.  Goals for the project 
include: 75 percent success rate in reintegrating the 1,000 
identified children into school; educating the parents of the 
working children and helping them to find alternate sources 
of income; and alerting the general public that patronizing 
child workers encourages child labor.  Project implementation 
calls for establishment of a child labor hotline, providing 
education (from basic literacy to business management) and 
small business loans to affected families, and providing 
basic health services to the working children and their 
families. 
--Budget:  Estimated budget for population identification, 
project implementation and evaluation is USD 110,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Remove children from dangerous 
working conditions on the streets, help families become 
financially independent, encourage small business development. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
COMMUNITY-BASED CHILD WELFARE COMMITTEES 
---------------------------------------- 
 
--UNICEF-administered program initiated in 2005, which 
utilizes the country's existing community development network 
to monitor and report situations of child labor and school 
dropouts.  Costa Rica has in place a national network of 
community development committees, with one committee 
established for every 100 households.  Volunteer members are 
trained to assist other community members in developing 
business opportunities and reporting local utility, road and 
infrastructure problems.  UNICEF proposes to establish within 
each of these committees a subcommittee devoted to children's 
issues.  Specifically, two or three members on each committee 
would be trained to identify and report child labor 
situations in the community.  In addition, these members 
receive training in spotting child abuse warning signs and 
school truancy, and have the materials and expertise 
necessary to bring such situations to the attention of 
appropriate governmental authorities.  The pilot project, 
which began in 2005, has already established 260 child 
welfare boards and is anticipated to last three additional 
years, with the goal of removing 6,000 children from work 
environments in the San Jose and Desamparados regions of the 
Central Valley. 
--The estimated budget for the program is USD 605,000. 
UNICEF is funding up to USD 200,000, leaving a budget 
shortfall of USD 405,000. 
--U.S. Policy Objective: Reduce child labor using existing 
national network, and increase local awareness of child labor 
issues. 
NOTE: This last project is the only active program on the 
list.  UNICEF requires funding as soon as possible in order 
to successfully complete the project. 
LANGDALE