By Bill Cresenzo
The Virginia branch of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Mexico aimed at informing Mexican national workers about their rights.
The memo was signed in Norfolk last week by Anibal Gomez Teledo, head of the consular section of the embassy for the United Mexican States and Bruce W. Clark, the district director for the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in the Richmond District Office.
The memo calls for the launch of an educational program targeted at the 163,000 Mexican nationals who work in the commonwealth. Under the agreement, the labor department and the embassy would work to:
* Provide training by the division and establish a system for referring workplace complaints to it.
* Conduct at least two public forums during the year to educate the public about workplace laws.
* Set up a system for Mexican nationals who have returned to their native county but are owed back wages that the division collected from employers.
* Verify dates of birth for Mexican minors who may have been the victim of child labor violations.
* Hold roundtable discussions and forums regarding compensation issues affecting Mexican nationals.
"The goal is to reduce violations of the minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping, child labor, safe housing and transportation provisions of the laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division," said Joanna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor. nib