Council on Salaries Defies Haitian Law with Illegal Wage Hike

Going against Haitian law, which demands workers be paid a minimum of 300 gourdes for an eight-hour shift, the Council on Salaries (CSS) agreed to raise daily pay to only 225 gourdes.


Outraged members of the Collective of Textile Factory Unions (KOSIT) protested in Port-au-Prince and Ouanaminthe for a 500-gourde daily wage. Textile manufacturers responded acceding to the demands of KOSIT would hinder Haiti from being competitive with Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Tellingly, those countries are infamous for intolerable work conditions and worker abuse.

Avoiding the issue of punitive wages for textile workers, the Association of Haitian Industries asserts, keeping wages extremely low will ". . . help Haiti open up and present itself as a country that is changing and modernizing . . ." To whose benefit?

Yannick Etienne of labor group, Workers Struggle, asked CSS to refrain from signing any contract that did not offer a minimum wage of 300 gourdes. But CSS declined to set the wage at the level Haitian law requires.

Many U.S. retail brands are unconcerned with workers' paltry wages or slave labor conditions. They include GAP, Hanes, Kohl's, Levi's, and Wal-Mart. Wages and work conditions their subcontractors permit do not affect the major brands as it long as it doesn't affect their bottom line. Rare exceptions of retail brands honoring the Haitian wage law are Gildan and Fruit of the Loom, who have committed to making sure their subcontractors honor the 300-gourde minimum wage.

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