Department of Labor
Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee
Signing Ceremony for OTLA TAC Project
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
• I am honored and delighted to participate in the signing ceremony of this important Letter of Intent between the Department of Labor of the United States of America and the Ministry of Employment, Labor, and Social Security of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a commitment to advance the interest of workers by promoting core labor standards.
• Our signing this letter marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship to support the USDOL funded technical assistance project, “Supporting Progress on Labor Standards in the DRC.”
• This project is directly related to actions your government undertook to meet benchmarks to regain eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
• Congratulations on your country’s reinstatement into AGOA last year.
• This project grew out of conversations we had with the AGOA Task Force, some members of which are present today. This team demonstrated a commitment to labor standards and pursuit of labor reforms.
• In addition, your government acknowledged the role labor inspections play to ensure workers’ rights are respected. USDOL supports this endeavor.
• This project seeks to:
o identify and address violations of acceptable conditions of work;
o increase worker access to effective remedies;
o empower workers and their organization;
o strengthen and sustain dialogue among tripartite stakeholders to improve compliance; and
o support capacity-building of the General Labor Inspectorate.
• I am also happy to hear of the increase in budgetary funding for the Ministry of Labor and the plans to also increase the number of labor inspectors across the nation.
• These measures are necessary not only to provide the Ministry with the tools and resources it needs to successfully carry out its mandate. They will also help ensure long-term sustainability of the project.
• I want to thank all of the organizers of this signing ceremony, including the U.S. embassy and Ambassador Hammer. Thanks also goes to the Presidency for hosting this event. I also want to thank Minister of 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 inputs and collaboration.
• I look forward to continuing this lasting cooperation.
• I also want to take this opportunity to commend your government for the commitment it undertook when it became a Pathfinder Country under Alliance 8.7 to accelerate its actions to combat child labor, forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking.
• The United States is already actively supporting efforts in the DRC to address child labor in cobalt mining. We hope to see increased progress in this area in the coming year and stand ready to dedicate 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 address labor issues in this important sector. This is important for attracting investment, which then in turn will deliver jobs and development for the Congolese people.