On March 17, FLA hosted a seminar and discussion in Washington, D.C., on social protection for apparel and footwear workers, with emphasis on Central America. Omar Salazar Alvarado, Executive Director of the Asociación de Servicios de Promoción Laboral (ASEPROLA), presented the paper Enhancing Social Protection in the Apparel and Footwear Industry in Central America, which was commissioned by the MFA Forum as part of its Sustainable Apparel and Footwear Initiative.
The target countries in the study were Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua – which have seen an estimated 20% decrease in employment in this sector over the past three years caused by the financial crisis in the United States and an increased shift of apparel and footwear production to Asian countries.
The ASEPROLA report presents a series of proposals to strengthen worker protections in the region, focusing on the role of the government, workers and social justice organizations in this effort. It also provides a general context of the region in terms of employment structure, public policy and laws protecting workers’ rights. Details on wage structures in each of these countries – along with options for worker compensation – can be found in the report as well.
Mr. Salazar opened with an overview of the report, followed by a panel discussion moderated by FLA’s Executive Director Jorge Perez-Lopez. Panelists included: Jennifer Bair, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado; Ana Aslan, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor; Homero Fuentes, COVERCO, Guatemala; and Veronica Alaimo, Inter-American Development Bank.