March 8, 2018 – Port Au Prince, Haiti – Textile workers with the trade union, SOTA-BO, commemorated International Women’s Day outside the SONAPI Industrial Park, to bring attention to their continued fight for democratic rights – a wage that allows them to feed, clothe, house and educate themselves and their families, as well as the right to healthcare, and more.
They demonstrated, handed out leaflets and sang:
Our condition can’t stay like this.
Their dogs are better than us.
We swear things must change.
Haitian garment workers are paid the lowest wage in the western hemisphere – 350 Gourdes per day (US $5.47). In 2017, SOTA-BO led a three month long mobilization of strikes, work stoppages, marches, and meetings to demand an increased wage of 800 Gourdes per day (US$12.82). Factory owners and the government responded with violence and repression. One factory owner – Alain Villard – told workers at Palm Apparel factory that his dogs were worth more than them.
During this March 8 mobilization, SOTA workers began to call out for 1,000 Gourdes. 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 four years ago. The cost of living has only increased since then.
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