Media Center


More than a Decade Supporting Employment and Workers in the Americas

December 6, 2017.

Compassion was not the only feeling that Rossy Palma felt when she saw dozens of children scavenging from dawn to dusk in garbage dumps in the outskirts of Guatemala City.  As Head of the Unit for the Protection of Adolescent Workers in the Labor Ministry of Guatemala, she was also overwhelmed by knowing that she bore the responsibility of finding a better life for these children.  She found the solution through the Organization of American States (OAS) and its Inter-American Network for Labor Administration.

Through RIAL, Palma learned of Ecuador's success in its fight against a similar problem. The Network facilitated communication, and Palma and her team traveled to Quito to personally learn about the Ecuadoran methods.  Today, thanks to the knowledge they gained, Guatemala has been able to remove 145 children from working in garbage dumps.

"In Guatemala, we had not developed such actions, and we were aware of the issue of children -girls and boys- putting aside books and toys in order to become providers for their families," explained the public servant.  "The support RIAL provided was essential because it stimulated bilateral exchanges with Ecuador, which strengthened the knowledge of the Guatemalan technical team and helped to get methods and tools to be applied in our country. This process played a significant role in removing these children from the labor force.  Through that effort, we were able to change the reality of many children who are now in school and not involved in dangerous economic activities," she concluded.


RIAL’s Achievements

"The Network has strengthened coordination among different countries having a broader impact in the overall hemisphere and has evolved to become a strong, efficient network, one for which we have great hopes. In the case of COSATE, the RIAL has strengthened us because it has created spaces for participation not only within the IACML but also at the national level."

Marta Pujadas
Vice President of the Trade Union Technical Advisory Council COSATE

The example of cooperation between Guatemala and Ecuador is not unique.  RIAL has spent more than ten years fostering the expansion of governments' and communities' achievements in the area of labor throughout the Hemisphere, and helping in sharing, adapting and replicating such success stories.  The purpose -in many cases the result- is a genuine impact on the lives of many individuals, families, and communities.

The main tools that the RIAL offers include:

  • A portfolio of projects that serve as an example of best practices for labor ministries, trade unions and employers' organizations that participate in the IACML
  • forums and workshops,
  • studies and technical documents that analyze successful policies and programs in the region and provide policy recommendations,
  • bilateral cooperation initiatives that has become the most active and dynamic component of the network,
  • the news bulletin

With these tools, the RIAL has helped to improve the capacity of the Ministries of Labor and to strengthen their coordination and collaboration. Among other achievements in its twelve years the RIAL:

  • Has facilitated 99 bilateral cooperation initiatives focused on finding tools and solutions to concrete labor issues.
  • Has contributed to the implementation of policies and legislation on occupational safety, remuneration, work-life balance, rights in the workplace and telework, among others.
  • Has directly benefited 1,200 public servants through training activities, field practices, exchanges with other institutions, expert assistance, and access to forums and publications.
  • Has promoted interaction between governments, employers and workers to reach agreements, prevent and resolve labor disputes.
  • Has strengthened the capacity of governments in labor administration and has made the protection of workers' rights more effective.
  • Has conducted 22 hemispheric workshops on youth employment, labor migration, occupational health and safety and other priority labor issues.

The RIAL was created during the XIV Inter-American Conference of Labor Ministers in Mexico as a solution to the need for a cooperation mechanism to strengthen the human and institutional capacities of labor ministries and to find solutions to the demands for greater productivity and efficiency in their portfolios.

Since then, the ministers responsible for employment and labor in the Americas can request the assistance of the OAS, explaining the challenges and needs that they want to address.  In this regard, RIAL identifies similar stories and successful experiences in other areas of the region and shares them with the country.  Thereafter, on-site visits can be conducted and trainings and exchanges can be planned.


"A Great Impact"

A Decade Supporting Employment and Workers in the Americas

Field visit to the Productive Project of MUSA Group in Tepoztlán, Mexico.

This was the path the Government of Trinidad and Tobago embarked upon for the creation of its Agency for Social Security and Labor in Trinidad and Tobago.  RIAL facilitated an in-situ visit for a delegation from that country to learn and receive technical assistance from the United States Department of Labor.  Participants reported that the collaborative exercise allowed them "to learn about best practices and to consider issues that they hadn't thought about before then," such as radiation risk management and the use of such materials in the workplace.

The Labor Ministry of Costa Rica, meanwhile, requested support to help train employment managers and assist the population with major issues in the area of employability.  Through RIAL, Argentinian experts contributed to the improvement of monitoring tools and to the reorganization the unit providing such service.

In Paraguay, the RIAL supported the creation of Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security, which responsibilities were previously assigned to the Justice Ministry.  "RIAL was an outstanding ally at the time we made that change and to achieve greater practices," asserts Enrique López Arce, General Director of Planning and Cooperation of the Paraguayan Ministry.

For Julio Rosales, International Affairs Director of the Labor, Employment, and Social Security Ministry of Argentina, "RIAL has had a strong impact at the hemispheric level; its great achievement is that it has let every country choose freely the experience shared by other countries that could best serve its own development." "In Argentina, RIAL has had a huge impact because it has allowed us to know the realities of other countries and has helped us to move forward with one voice at the regional level," he concludes.

Reference: E-343/15