Department of Labor
Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Thea Lee
OTLA TAC Project Signing Ceremony
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
• I am honored and pleased to participate in the signing ceremony of this important Letter of Intent signed by the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Employment, Labor and Social Security, Democratic Republic of Congo, reflecting their commitment to moving forward the interests of workers by promoting core labor standards.
• The signing of this letter marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship in support of US Department of Labor funded technical assistance projects, “Supporting Progress on Labor Standards in the DRC”.
• This project is directly linked to the actions taken by your government to achieve the goals of regaining eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
• Congratulations on your country’s reintegration into AGOA last year.
• This project grew out of conversations we had with the AGOA Working Group, some of whom are here today. This team demonstrated its commitment to labor standards and the pursuit of labor reforms.
• In addition, your government has recognized the role that labor inspections play in ensuring that workers’ rights are respected. The US Department of Labor supports this effort.
• This project aims to:
o identify and respond to violations of acceptable working conditions;
o increase workers’ access to effective remedies;
o empower workers and their organizations;
o strengthen and continue dialogue among tripartite constituencies to improve compliance; and
o support the training of the General Labor Inspectorate;
• I also welcome the increase in budgetary funding for the Ministry of Labor and the existence of plans to also increase the number of labor inspectors across the country.
• These measures are not only necessary to provide the department with the tools and resources it needs to successfully fulfill 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. I would also like to thank the Presidency for hosting this event. I also wish to express my gratitude to Minister of Labor Claudine Ndusi M’Kembe and Chief of Staff Guylain Nyembo. And thanks to the AGOA Working Group and the General Labor Inspectorate for their contributions and collaboration.
• I look forward to the continuation of this lasting cooperation.
• I would also like to take this opportunity to commend your government for the commitment it has shown when the DRC became a Pathfinder country under the 8.7 Alliance to accelerate its efforts to combat child labour, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.