Textile Workers Union Statement On the 225 Gourdes Minimum Wage

We salute all our friends in the media who are attending this press conference we have convened to raise our voice in protest against the decision by the Supreme Council on Wages to set the minimum wage for all workers in Haiti at a pitiful level. Does the Council think that workers can actually live off a minimum wage between 125 and 300 gourdes? If 300 gourdes was calculated as an acceptable minimum living wage in 2009 by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST) at, how could it be that, four years later, a salary of less than 300 gourdes could be enough to cover the basic needs of a worker?

We, the members of KOSIT (Kolektif Sendika Izin Tesktil – Collective of Textile Manufacturing Unions), composed of four union federations in the textile assembly sector, are protesting this decision. The pittance that has been added to the miserly 200 gourdes daily wage isn’t enough to be of any real use to us. It is not a decent salary and it does not take into account the current cost of living of a worker and his/her family. It does not take into account the increase in the cost of staple goods while the gourde is losing value day by day. The cost of food, clothing, shoes, rent, water and energy are all rising, raising our cost of living. Our purchasing power is constantly decreasing. Haitian workers are paid in gourdes, but we purchase in dollars, since most of the goods we consume are imported. Did the Council really take into account all the macro-economic indices when they made their decision on adjusting the minimum wage?

We consider that the 225 gourdes daily minimum wage set for assembly sector workers is a setback compared to the minimum wage that was set in 2009 because the value of the gourde has decreased considerably. We demanded a 500 gourdes daily minimum wage and we got 225 gourdes, less than half of what we asked for. This is an insult, a total lack of respect, a criminal act. That maintaining competitiveness should be the main criterion for adjusting the minimum wage is a complete neo-liberal aberration that we, in the union movement refuse to accept. That is why we are asking all workers to remain mobilized and to wait for our call to action. Our mobilization must continue. Our struggle for a decent minimum wage must continue even stronger.

The unions and factory owners still have to negotiate concerning the minimum wage for production workers paid at a piece-rate or through production quotas. Unless we mobilize, the factory owners will come up with indecent proposals and our representatives in the council will not be able to oppose them because they are a minority in the Council of Wages. We denounce the actions of one of the union representatives in the council who gave in to the demands of the assembly factory owners. The collective interests of workers must always prevail when confronting pressure and intransigence from management representatives. We denounce this capitulation, this backstabbing of workers by this particular union representative.

We, in KOSIT, will continue to mobilize everywhere, whether in Ouanaminthe or in Caracol, to raise our collective voice against the 225 gourdes decision. We are asking all the allies of workers, (students, members of progressive and popular organizations etc.…) to keep up this mobilization with us. The struggle is not over. It will go on even stronger. Workers, stay strong and mobilized so we can show them what we are really worth in the coming days! DOWN WITH MISERY WAGES! DOWN WITH THE DISGUISED SLAVERY OF ASSEMBLY FACTORIES! WORKERS, OUR CAUSE IS AT STAKE, LET’S STAY STRONG! Let’s gather our strength to take this struggle to a new level!

KOSIT (Kolektiv Sendikal Izin Tekstil) (kositkolektif@hotmail.com) –  December 3, 2013

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