May 1st, International Workers Day, is approaching. In Haiti, garment workers are doing battle for their basic rights to a union and to represent themselves.
April 2 – a conflict broke at at Quality Sewing factory. Workers stopped work in protest over the firing of union members and leaders. Management called on CIMO, the equivalent of a SWAT team, to threaten the protesting workers.
(You can read the statement from SOTA workers about this situation at the bottom of this page).
Since October 2016, when workers first came to management to discuss the formation of a new chapter of SOTA-BO textile union, they have faced intimidation, harassment, and arbitrary firings from Quality Sewing management and its owner.
In Haiti feudalist ideas and practices are still common. Under feudalism, the relationship between landlord and peasant is/was mediated by domination and a paternalistic attitude from the land owner. The peasant has no rights and must always respect the decisions of the landlord. The peasant is a dependent of the landlord. The concepts of democracy, independence, and democratic rights are not part of this relationship.
Quality Sewing owner, Ibrahim Felix brings these feudalist ideas to his factory. He expects complete submission from the workers, as he exploits them.
But the workers and union members of SOTA at Quality Sewing say, “NOT HAPPENING.”
This May Day, stand with garment workers fighting for their rights in Haiti!
At the same time that Quality Sewing workers are fighting for recognition of their new union chapter, SOKOWA workers at Codevi Free Trade Zone are resisting a 13% wage tax. And, SOTA workers at H&H Textiles in Carrefour continue their strike against similar conditions – harrassment, abuse and arbitrary firings.
The RRN is collecting funds to support these struggles in Haiti.
We must not passively accept the presence of products on store shelves without understanding—and actively opposing—the harsh conditions of exploitation and repression under which they are produced.
Make a contribution of any amount.
Stand with workers fighting for the their fights. Stand against exploitation.
Funds will be used to support the ongoing strikes at H&H Textiles and Codevi Free Trade Zone. Funds will also be used to help workers hold further protests, events, and demonstrations for May Day!
Here are ways you can contribute:
* We’re working on a way to receive online donations, but don’t have 501(c)3 status.
1. Send a wire transfer donation directly to Batay Ouvriye towards the strike fund.
ENTESENDIKAL PREMYE ME BATAY OUVRIYE
SOGEBANK S.A. Route de Delmas, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (509) 2815 5595
Swift Code for Sogebank:
Corresponding banks in the US:
BANK OF AMERICA/MERRILL LYNCH, New York, N.Y. USA
Swift Code: BOFAUS3N
Bank of New York Mellon, New York, USA
Swift Code: IRVTUS3N
2. Mail Checks to:
35 NW 195 ST
Miami, FL 33169
* Please write check out to Frantz Wainwright & note Haiti Strike Fund.
3. Email the RRN if you’re in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, and you’d like to send cash/check to be wired to Haiti – RRNsolidarity@gmail.com.
4. Follow, Like & Subscribe to the RRN for ongoing updates and campaigns to support independent and autonomous workers’ struggles.
Newsletter/updates sign up: http://goo.gl/Me35SH
Thank you for your solidarity!
Summary On the Conflict of SOTA-BO and the Management of Quality Sewing
Port-Au-Prince April 2, 2017
A conflict broke out when SOTA-BO informed the management of Quality Sewing of the formation of a new union chapter at the plant. A letter dated on October 30, 2016 requested a first meeting to introduce the Executive Committee members; notwithstanding, the meeting happened until November 23, 2016 with less than the full committee members due to obstacles set by management.
Following the first meeting, union-management exchanges followed; however, relations with management were very rocky. Many members were fired in December 2016 under the pretense of lack of work. In addition, there was intimidation and moral harassment in disrespecting workers, arbitrary dismissals against union members etc. Committee members faced enormous pressure on many occasions. To resolve these problems peacefully, the union made numerous attempts to meet with the management of the plant. By contrast, management continued to plot against workers. The union made a proposal to sign a collective bargaining agreement spelling out union functions at the plant so that union rights can be implemented on the basis of mutual respect. We submitted our proposal for discussion in the days to come. It was clear that the management of this plant under the leadership of Abraham Felix and his children would not accept the presence of a union they could not corrupt and that would not bow down to them.
The month of March 2017 began with an upsurge of anti-union practices by management of Quality Sewing with the intent of breaking up the union and doing as they please in the plant. Abraham Felix has a paternalistic approach to the workers. He and his children do not tolerate opposing viewpoints. They use reactionary means to neutralize everyone, every organization that does not bow to their positions. They don’t want correct union-management relations. They want a relationship of total domination and submission of the union. We reject absolutely such relationship. In that context, management launched a campaign of intimidation, and manipulation of a group of employees (supervisors, fifth-column workers who are afraid to lose certain privileges such as borrowing money with interests, buying rice, oil and spaghetti on credit) to stop the union from growing at the plant.