The weeks-long garment workers strike in Haiti is emblematic of international corporations promoting slave labor and putting profits above lives.
The largest culprits are American companies, who import almost 80 percent of garments manufactured in Haiti. They have sat silently by over the past several weeks as Haitian authorities have brutally attempted to break up the demonstrations with teargas and violence.
Most recent data show that Haitian garment workers make an average of 570 Gourde, or $5.50 per day. With the rising cost of living, majority of Haitians are unable to survive on what they make. A monthly public transportation ticket costs 1500 Gourde, a dozen eggs costs 200 Gourde, and monthly internet subscription costs 5,700 Gourde.
Just this Monday, on Feb. 21, the Haitian government finally agreed to raise the minimum wage, after the weeks-long demonstrations by the brave garment workers who are standing up against being exploited.
Based on the government announcement, the minimum wage for garment workers will rise from 500 Gourde to 770 Gourde, or a little less than $7.50 per day. This increase still does not meet what unions are demanding, a wage of $15 per day, that would be more appropriate to address the rise in the cost of living in Haiti.
There is strength in numbers, and Workers United, the union representing garment workers in North America, stands in solidarity with the more than 50,000 garment workers of Haiti.
The world is watching, and will call to task the companies that are profiting many-fold on the backs of our Haitian brothers and sisters. It’s time for corporations, especially our American companies who import garments manufactured in Haiti to step up, and pay workers what they deserve. Your brand is at stake.
Secretary-Treasurer, Workers United
Member of Industriall