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Belize and United States Partner to Protect Rights of Belizean Workers in US

– Press Release, Belmopan, February 10, 2014 – The Ambassador of Belize in the United States, H.E. Nestor Mendez, and the US Secretary of Labor, the Hon. Thomas E. Perez, signed today a Joint Declaration by which Belize and the United States agree to work together to improve the awareness of Belizean workers in the United States regarding their rights as workers regardless of their migration status.

In addition to the Joint Declaration, Letters of Arrangement with The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor and with The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration were also signed by Belize with the respective heads of department.

Under the new initiatives, the Embassy of Belize and its network of Consular Representations in the United States will work together with the US National and State level labor authorities to inform Belizean workers in the United States regarding their workplace rights, including information about hourly wages and occupational safety regulations that are in place to protect them.

An important component of the new mechanism will provide an established channel for the Belizean consular representatives to make representation to labor authorities on behalf of Belizean workers whose rights are being violated; irrespective of their migration status. The US Government has signed a similar agreement with ten countries in the region, and Belize is the first Caribbean country to enter into such an agreement.

The new mechanisms agreed today clearly underscore the commitment of the Government of Belize and specifically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to look after the wellbeing of Belizeans living abroad, and to offer them a wide range of consular services and protections. The measures being put in place will seek to ensure that the thousands of Belizean workers in the United States have access to all the protections available to them under the law, thereby providing them an additional level of confidence.

The Government of Belize recognizes the Belizean Diaspora as an important part of our nation, and as a strategic partner for the development of our country through the continued transfer of remittances, donations, technical know-how, and as potential investors in the economic development of Belize.

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