Haiti remains in the midst of multiple crises as the country grapples with the question of who will lead the nation in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Most recently, the dramatic rise in the cost of living has led workers to demand an increase in the minimum wage.
On January 17, a coalition of nine trade unions sent an open letter to the prime minister seeking a wage increase from 500 gourdes ($4.82) per day to 1,500 gourdes ($14.62). In the letter, they decried the current inflation rate of 22.8 percent and the difficulty of living on subsistence wages, and demanded a response by January 31, 2022.
The letter notes that three years have passed since the last adjustment to the minimum wage. Burdened with rising prices of basic necessities and services such as transportation, health care and education, workers need three to four times their current wages to survive. Article 137 of the Haitian Labor Code mandates that if the inflation rate exceeds 10 percent, the wage is to be adjusted.
The letter was signed by: SOTA-BO-Batay Ouvriye (textile union), Association of Textile Workers Unions for Re-importation-GOSTTRA (textile union); ROHAM, a union affiliated with Centrale Nationale des Ouvriers Haitians (CNOHA); SYNTRACO (textile union at Caracol industrial park); SOVASHG (textile union at S&H factory); SOKOWA (textile union at CODEVI industrial park); SOFEZO (textile union at Ouanaminthe); SROD’H, affiliated with CNOHA; and AASP (association of security professionals).
Trade unionists amplified the letter with social media messages saying, “Since 2019, the same salary. In the meantime, the price of transportation and food increased.”
On January 18, workers at SONAPI industrial park in Port-au-Prince—home to many of Haiti’s garment factories—held a spontaneous demonstration to call for a minimum wage increase. A member of GOSTTRA recorded a video of the protest.
The protest occurred as Prime Minister Henry was appearing at SONAPI for the installation of Dithny Joan Raton as the new labor ombudsperson for the garment industry. Since then, demonstrations have been widespread throughout industrial parks in the country.