Five Haitian construction workers in the Dominican Republic were shot on Feb. 2 after asking for unpaid wages, according to press reports. An eyewitness told Solidarity Center staff in Santo Domingo, the capital, that a sergeant of the national army fired upon and wounded the five workers, who were not taken to a hospital until a delegation from the Haitian Embassy arrived.
Even before a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated much of the country in 2010, many Haitians struggled to earn anything close to a living wage. As the country continues to rebuild, one strategy embraced by the United States and Haitian governments has been the development of export-oriented industries, particularly apparel. The apparel sector has grown by more than 45% since the earthquake. In 2013, the industry represented 9% of Haiti’s GDP and 89% of its export earnings. Unfortunately, these gains are not reaching workers.
In the Dominican Republic, you can be stripped of your citizenship even if you were born there. In September 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court concluded that individuals who are unable to prove their parents’ regular migration status can be retroactively stripped of their citizenship.
The story of Propper International, one of the largest clothing companies in the world, offers some important lessons on the ways the American government, sometimes inadvertently, undermines workers’ ability to make their jobs better globally.
Three years after the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti, workers and their families continue to struggle as the cost of living keeps rising while wages—for those who have jobs—remain the same. Informal discussions by the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center staff with Haitian export-processing workers this month indicate that in the past year, the cost of food and education has increased between 20% and 25%, while rent and transportation have risen between 15% and 20%.
Elizabeth Boomer of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department sends us this report in conjunction with the Solidarity Center.
Two years after a massive earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s capital and surrounding towns, the Haitian people are still struggling to recover from the disaster and the entrenched poverty that it has exacerbated.
In this interview, Anthony Jones, the resident representative of the ITUC and the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) in Haiti, highlights the urgency of placing decent work at the heart of Haiti’s reconstruction program after the devastating earthquakes in January 2010. He also insists on the importance of training to support the Haitian trade union movement.
One year ago, a massive earthquake shattered Haiti, violently disrupting the lives of more than 1 million people and killing more than 200,000. Workers in the island nation faced extraordinary challenges as they struggled to find loved ones, bury their dead, and secure shelter for their families amid the rubble.