JOHANNESBURG – Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the beneficiaries, following the U.S. Department of Labor’s recent award of $22 million in new grant funding to promote labor law enforcement and help end exploitative labor practices in at least five trade partner countries.
A budget of $5 million was channeled to the International Labour Organization (ILO) to strengthen the capacity of governments in Kenya and one other country in Sub-Saharan Africa to address child labor, forced labor and violations of acceptable conditions of work, as well as strengthen assistance services for victims of child labor and forced labor;
The funds will support projects to combat abusive labor practices, including the use of child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. New technical assistance will also support trade partners’ compliance with the labor requirements of U.S. trade agreements.
“Child labor, forced labor and human trafficking are repugnant practices, and we will work with our trade partners to stop them. These new grants will help the Bureau of International Labor Affairs in its mission to safeguard the dignity of work everywhere,” said Martha E. Newton, the US Department of Labour’s Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs.
There was also a $3 million budget to the ILO to increase the impact of rigorous research on forced labor in the garment sectors in Argentina and Mauritius.
In addition to the new funds, the department awarded $5 million to extend existing grants, including $3.5 million to the ILO/IFC Better Work program for projects to improve compliance with labor law and promote women’s empowerment in the apparel sectors of Haiti, Jordan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The funds are made available through the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, whose mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments; strengthening labor standards; and combating international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking.