During the forum, the brands had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Nicaraguan Association of Textiles and Apparel (ANITEC), the Superior Council of the Private Enterprise of Nicaragua (COSEP), the Nicaraguan Free Zones Commission (CNZF) and representatives of different unions to discuss the industry’s views on the Tripartite Agreement signed in early 2013.
During the meeting, it was noted that Nicaragua is a pioneer in carrying out a dialogue between the public and private sector, and the workers in the free zone sector, which has been a success. The recently signed Tripartite Agreement provides wage increases in the free trade zones until 2017, in order to achieve greater job security for employees in this sector and predictability for investors.
It was also mentioned that this is the third tripartite agreement in which the parties have worked together to strengthen and develop the free zone sectors in Nicaragua, which currently employs over 100,000 people (16 percent of the country’s formal employment sector in the country), and which is considered an important engine of the national economy, with exports that exceeded US$2,000 million in 2012.
The Minimum Wage Tripartite Agreement on Trade Zones provides a wage increase of 8 percent annually for the 2014-2017 period, for employees working in the country’s free trade zones. The agreement also focuses on the development of mechanisms to increase productivity in business zones as well as in the creation of social programs that benefit employees, such as funding for housing projects, distribution of food packages and leisure and health programs.
The first edition of this agreement, unprecedented in Latin America, was signed in 2008 in response to the financial crisis and as a way to protect employees and investors in free zones sectors. Its positive reception and success in promoting the sustainability of the sector resulted in the signing of a second tripartite agreement in 2010.