Chapter Fifteen sets out the Parties’ commitments regarding trade-related labor rights. As with other recent free trade agreements, this Chapter draws on, but does not replicate, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (the supplemental NAFTA labor agreement) and the labor provisions of the U.S. free trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, and Jordan.
General Principles. Under Chapter Fifteen, the Parties reaffirm their obligations as members of the International Labor Organization (“ILO”) and their commitments under the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Each Party must strive to ensure that its law recognizes and protects the fundamental labor principles spelled out in the ILO declaration and listed in the Chapter. Each Party also must strive to ensure it does not waive or otherwise derogate from its labor laws to encourage bilateral trade or investment. The Parties also commit to afford procedural guarantees that ensure workers and employers have access to fair, equitable, and transparent procedures for the enforcement of labor laws.
Effective Enforcement. Each Party commits not to fail to effectively enforce its labor laws on a sustained or recurring basis in a manner affecting bilateral trade. The Chapter defines labor laws to include those related to: (1) the right of association; (2) the right to organize and bargain collectively; (3) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor; (4) labor protections for children and young people, including a minimum age for the employment of children and elimination of the worst forms of child labor; and (5) acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours, and occupational safety and health. While committing each Party to effective labor law enforcement, the Chapter also recognizes each Party’s right to establish its own labor laws, exercise discretion in investigatory, regulatory, prosecutorial, and compliance matters, and allocate enforcement resources. The U.S. commitment includes federal statutes and regulations addressing these areas, but it does not cover state or local labor laws.
Cooperation. Each Party may convene a national labor advisory committee, made up of members of its public, including representatives of labor and business organizations, to advise it on the implementation of the Chapter. Each Party also will designate a contact point for communications with the other Party and the public regarding operation of the Chapter. In addition, the Joint Committee (see Article 18.2) may establish a Subcommittee on Labor Affairs comprising the relevant officials from each Party’s labor ministry and other appropriate agencies to discuss the operation of Chapter Fifteen. Meetings of the Subcommittee will normally include a public session.
Finally, the Parties will establish a Labor Cooperation Mechanism to address labor matters of common interest, such as: (1) promoting fundamental rights and their effective application; (2) developing unemployment assistance programs and other social safety net programs; (3) improving working conditions; (4) developing processes for regulating foreign workers; (5) creating alternative forms of labor-management collaboration; (6) eliminating gender discrimination in the employment arena; and (7) utilizing labor statistics.
Consultations and Dispute Settlement. If a Party believes that the other Party is not complying with its obligations, Chapter Fifteen provides for consultations regarding any matter arising under the Chapter, including the opportunity to refer a matter to the Subcommittee on Labor Affairs, if established. If the matter concerns a Party’s compliance with the Chapter’s effective enforcement obligation, the complaining Party may choose to pursue consultations under Chapter Fifteen or Chapter Nineteen (Dispute Settlement). If a Party chooses to request consultations under Chapter Nineteen, consultations under Chapter Fifteen on the same matter cease. In addition, after 60 days of consultations under Chapter Fifteen, the Parties may agree to refer the matter concerning compliance with the effective enforcement obligation directly to the Joint Committee for resolution under Chapter Nineteen.
Chapter (15) in FTA (labour)
ARTICLE 15.1: STATEMENT OF SHARED COMMITMENT
1- The Parties reaffirm their obligations as members of the International Labor Organization (“ILO”) and their commitments under the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up (1998) (“ILO Declaration”). Each Party shall strive to ensure that such labor principles and the internationally recognized labor rights set forth in Article 15.7 are recognized and protected by its law.
2- Recognizing the right of each Party to establish its own domestic labor standards, and to adopt or modify accordingly its labor laws, each Party shall strive to ensure that its laws provide for labor standards consistent with the internationally recognized labor rights set forth in Article 15.7 and shall strive to improve those standards in that light.
ARTICLE 15.2: APPLICATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF LABOR LAWS
1- (a) Neither Party shall fail to effectively enforce its labor laws, through a sustained or recurring course of action or inaction, in a manner affecting trade between the Parties, after the date of entry into force of this Agreement.
(b) The Parties recognize that each Party retains the right to exercise discretion with respect to investigatory, prosecutorial, regulatory, and compliance matters and to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources to enforcement with respect to other labor matters determined to have higher priority. Accordingly, the Parties understand that a Party is in compliance with subparagraph (a) where a course of action or inaction reflects a reasonable exercise of such discretion, or results from a bona fide decision regarding the allocation of resources.
2-Each Party recognizes that it is inappropriate to encourage trade or investment by weakening or reducing the protections afforded in domestic labor laws. Accordingly, each Party shall strive to ensure that it does not waive or otherwise derogate from, or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, such laws in a manner that weakens or reduces adherence to the internationally recognized labor rights referred to in Article 15.7 as an encouragement for trade with the other Party, or as an encouragement for the establishment, acquisition, expansion, or retention of an investment in its territory.
ARTICLE 15.3: PROCEDURAL GUARANTEES AND PUBLIC AWARENESS
1-Each Party shall ensure that persons with a recognized interest under its law in a particular matter have appropriate access to tribunals for the enforcement of the Party’s labor laws. Such tribunals may include administrative, quasi-judicial, judicial, or labor tribunals.
2-Each Party shall ensure that proceedings before such tribunals for the enforcement of its labor laws are fair, equitable, and transparent and, to this end, each Party shall provide that
(a) such proceedings comply with due process of law;
(b) any hearings in such proceedings are open to the public, except where the administration of justice otherwise requires;
(c) the parties to such proceedings are entitled to support or defend their respective positions, including by presenting information or evidence; and
(d) such proceedings do not entail unreasonable charges or time limits or unwarranted delays.
3. Each Party shall provide that final decisions on the merits of the case in such proceedings are:
(a) in writing and state the reasons on which the decisions are based;
(b) made available without undue delay to the parties to the proceedings and, consistent with its law, to the public; and
(c) based on information or evidence in respect of which the parties were offered the opportunity to be heard.
4. Each Party shall provide, as appropriate, that parties to such proceedings have the right to seek review and, where warranted, correction of final decisions issued in such proceedings.
5. Each Party shall ensure that tribunals that conduct or review such proceedings are impartial and independent and do not have any substantial interest in the outcome of the matter.
6. Each Party shall provide that the parties to such proceedings may seek remedies to ensure the enforcement of their rights under its labor laws. Such remedies may include, as appropriate, orders, compliance agreements, fines, penalties, imprisonment, injunctions, or emergency workplace closures.
(a) ensuring that information related to its labor laws and enforcement and compliance procedures is publicly available; and
(b) encouraging education of the public regarding its labor laws.
ARTICLE 15.4: INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
1. The Joint Committee established under Chapter Eighteen (Administration of the Agreement) shall consider issues and review activities related to the operation of this Chapter, including the Labor Cooperation Mechanism established under Article 15.5, and the pursuit of the labor objectives of this Agreement. The Joint Committee may establish a Subcommittee on Labor Affairs comprising officials of the labor ministry and other appropriate agencies or ministries of each Party. The Subcommittee shall meet at such times as it deems appropriate to discuss matters related to the operation of this Chapter, and each meeting shall include a public session, unless the Parties agree otherwise.
2. Each Party shall designate an office within its labor ministry that shall serve as a contact point with the other Party and with the public for purposes of implementing this Chapter. Each Party’s contact point shall provide for the submission, receipt, and consideration of public communications on matters related to this Chapter and shall make such communications available to the other Party and, as appropriate, to the public. Each Party shall review such communications, as appropriate, in accordance with domestic procedures.
3. Each Party may convene a national labor advisory committee comprising members of its public, including representatives of its labor and business organizations and other persons, to advise it on the implementation of this Chapter.
4. Each formal decision of the Parties concerning the implementation of this Chapter shall be made public, unless the Parties agree otherwise.
5. The Parties, when they consider it appropriate, shall jointly prepare reports on matters related to the implementation of this Chapter and shall make such reports public.
ARTICLE 15.5: LABOR COOPERATION
Recognizing that cooperation provides enhanced opportunities to promote respect for core labor standards embodied in the ILO Declaration and compliance with ILO Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999) (“ILO Convention 182”), and to further advance other common commitments regarding labor matters, the Parties hereby establish a Labor Cooperation Mechanism, as set out in Annex 15-A.
2. The Parties shall make every attempt to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution of the matter and may seek advice or assistance from any person or body they deem appropriate.
3. If the consultations fail to resolve the matter, either Party may request that the Subcommittee on Labor Affairs be convened. The Subcommittee shall convene within 30 days after a Party delivers a request to convene the Subcommittee to the other Party’s contact point designated pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article 15.4, unless the Parties agree otherwise. If the Joint Committee has not established the Subcommittee as of the date a Party delivers a request, it shall do so during the 30-day period described in this paragraph. The Subcommittee shall endeavor to resolve the matter expeditiously, including, where appropriate, by consulting governmental or non-governmental experts and having recourse to such procedures as good offices, conciliation, or mediation.
4. If a Party considers that the other Party has failed to carry out its obligations under paragraph 1(a) of Article 15.2, the Party may request consultations under paragraph 1 or pursuant to Article 19.5 (Consultations).
(a) If a Party requests consultations pursuant to Article 19.5 (Consultations) at a time when the Parties are engaged in consultations on the same matter under paragraph 1 or the Subcommittee is endeavoring to resolve the matter under paragraph 3, the Parties shall discontinue their efforts to resolve the matter under this Article. Once consultations have begun under Article 19.5 (Consultations), no consultations on the same matter may be entered into under this Article.
(b) If a Party requests consultations pursuant to Article 19.5 (Consultations) more than 60 days after the delivery of a request for consultations under paragraph 1, the Parties may agree at any time to refer the matter to the Joint Committee pursuant to Article 19.6 (Referral to the Joint Committee).
ARTICLE 15.7: DEFINITIONS
For purposes of this Chapter:
labor laws means a Party’s statutes or regulations, or provisions thereof, that are directly related to the following internationally recognized labor rights:
(a) the right of association;
(b) the right to organize and bargain collectively;
(c) a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor;
(d) labor protections for children and young people, including a minimum age for the employment of children and the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor; and
(e) acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health