Port au Prince, Haiti – Monday, 04.10.17 – This morning, garment workers were met by national police in full force, both inside and outside, the Sonapi Industrial Park. Workers scheduled to gather at Sonapi before taking the streets again today, to march for a minimum wage adjustment of 800 Gourdes (US$12.80).
Last week, in a press conference, the workers announced, “We won’t take anything lower than HTG800 (US$12.80)… We gave them an ultimatum of this Friday [07.07.17] to make their proposal.”
“Them,” references the Haitian State Salary Council, or CSS. It’s comprised of a representative from the following entities: factory owners, the Haitian government, and labor. The CSS consistently represents the interests of factory owners, as labor is always in minority. Often owners will pay off or manipulate the labor representative on this council.
On Friday, 07.07.17, the RRN received a photo of the CSS proposal for wage increases. They offered the workers 335 Gourdes. The existing starvation wage is 300 Gourdes.
This offer is an insult to the workers.
“If you spend HTG150 of your salary on food and HTG75 on transport, what do you have left to live with?” asked Batay Ouvriye representative, Yannick Etienne, in last week’s press conference.
A 2014 study by The Solidarity Center titled “The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti,” concluded that, based on a standard 48-hour work week, Haitian workers should be paid at least 1,006 gourdes per day to adequately provide for themselves and their families.
That was three years ago. Workers are demanding less than what is said they actually need to survive.
With this morning’s massive police presence, factory owners and the Haitian state have made clear that they value the profits of slave labor far too much to pay a decent wage to workers. Rather than negotiate, they use the police to repress workers.
We are waiting to see how this situation plays out, and to hear from the workers how they’d like us to proceed.
Please be ready to take action.
In the video below, workers hand out leaflets for today’s march, singing, “Nou vale ouit san gourd!” We are worth 800 gourd. We deserve 800 gourd.
GIANT thanks to all people from around the world who continue to stand with Haitian garment workers and their fight for a minimum wage adjustment!
Your donations, emails, social media posts, tweets and shares continue to have a major impact. The Haitian government, factory owners, and regulatory agencies, normally function with impunity, exploiting and repressing workers as they please. They assume that we don’t know or care where Haiti is. They assume that we only care about consuming cheap goods.
Now, they know that the world is watching. We are not just passive consumers. We are humans expressing our instinct for collectivity and international solidarity.
They cannot repress people fighting for their rights. We will not stand for that. We are many. We are strong.
The workers have said they will not stop until they receive 800 Gourdes. Let’s join them in their resolve.
Don’t stop. Kenbe fem. Stand firm.
Please consider making a donation to help workers continue their efforts.
Your contribution will be used to provide meals to workers at meetings; to print leaflets; to help transport organizers; and to recoup the costs of mobilizing in four locations, since May 19.
After weeks of strikes and mobilizations, many have been arrested. Some must return to work in order to eat. Some have been denied entry into the factories for their participation in the strikes, and cannot pay rent. Some are facing medical bills from police repression.
While many workers are hungry, tired, and struggling to survive, their resolve does not wane.
They are determined to continue this fight. They must. Their survival depends on it.
Thank you for your solidarity! <3