A Conversation with Colombia’s Labor Minister

Inter-American Dialogue / Ben Raderstorf

On July 17, the Inter-American Dialogue invited Colombia’s Minister of Labor, Griselda Restrepo, to discuss labor advances in post-conflict Colombia. Director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program, Michael Camilleri, moderated the discussion. The event focused on US-Colombia cooperation over labor policy, new labor initiatives accompanying the peace accords, and post-conflict violence against workers.

Minister Restrepo began the discussion by praising U.S.-Colombia relations after her meetings with the U.S. Department of Labor. The minister reasserted Colombia’s commitment with the 2011 Labor Action Plan, and she highlighted some of the advances in incorporating workers to the formal sector, increasing the employment rate, and expanding worker’s rights. Under the new administration, Restrepo called on the U.S. government and the private sector to continue to support the peace process and invest in Colombia.

As part of the peace process, the minister explained the key role of the Labor Ministry, especially of the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA), in training and providing entrepreneurship opportunities to reincorporate FARC members. Their biggest focus was communities in rural areas. The minister recognized the role of other institutions and sectors in the peace process, including universities and the private sector. Although the minister admitted some of the challenges facing Colombia, Restrepo celebrated the decrease in violence against labor union leaders and the government’s investment in security for union workers.

The event concluded with a question and answer section that raised many challenges in the work place: discrimination, gender inequality, and tax reform.  Minister Restrepo reminded the audience of the legal advances protecting minorities and women from discrimination in the workplace. Restrepo concluded with the advances in labor conditions and the upcoming tax reforms.






Watch the full recording of the event here:  

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