Ministry of Labor
Deputy Secretary of State for International Affairs Thea Lee
Signature ceremony for the OTLA TAC project
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
• I am honored and pleased to attend the signing ceremony of this important declaration of intent between the United States Department of Labor and the Department of Employment, Labor and Social Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a commitment to promote workers’ interests by promoting core labor standards.
• Our signing of this letter marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship in support of the USDOL-funded technical assistance project, “Supporting Progress on Labor Standards in DRC.”
• This project is directly related to actions that your government undertook to meet benchmarks to regain eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
• Congratulations on your country’s reinstatement in AGOA last year.
• This project grew out of conversations we had with the AGOA Task Force, some of whose members are present today. This team demonstrated a commitment to labor standards and the pursuit of labor reforms.
• In addition, your government recognized the role that labor inspectorates play in ensuring that workers’ rights are respected. USDOL supports this effort.
• This project seeks to:
o identify and address violations of acceptable working conditions;
o increase workers’ access to effective remedies;
o strengthen workers and their organization;
o strengthen and maintain dialogue between tripartite stakeholders to improve compliance; and
o support capacity building of general labor supervision.
• I am also pleased to hear about the increase in budget funds for the Ministry of Labor and the plans to also increase the number of labor inspectors throughout the country.
• These measures are not only necessary to provide the Ministry with the tools and resources it needs to carry out its mandate. They will also help ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.
• I would like to thank all the organizers of this signing ceremony, including the US Embassy and Ambassador Hammer. Thanks also go to the presidency for hosting this event. I would also like to thank Minister for Labor Claudine Ndusi M’Kembe and Chief of Staff Guylain Nyembo. And thank you to the AGOA Task Force and to the General Labor Inspectorate for your input and cooperation.
• I look forward to continuing this lasting collaboration.
• I would also like to take this opportunity to commend your Government for the commitment it made when it became a Pathfinder country under Alliance 8.7, to accelerate its actions to combat child labor, forced labor, modern day slavery and human trafficking.
• The United States is already actively supporting the DRC’s efforts to address child labor in cobalt mining. We hope to see increased progress in this area in the coming year and are ready to set aside up to $ 4 million in additional technical assistance funding to the existing $ 10 million we have in place to help your government meet its commitments to resolve labor market issues in this important sector. This is important to attract investment, which in turn will provide jobs and development to the Congolese people.