Haiti: Instead of Lifting, Wages Keep Workers in Poverty

Credit: Congress of Haitain Workers

Credit: Congress of Haitain Workers

Four years ago this weekend, a massive earthquake brought catastrophe to the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Haitians. Despite an outpouring of promises and millions of dollars in investment designated to help workers get back on their feet, the majority of Haitians still live in poverty. Instead of supporting recovery, their meager incomes fund little more than continued privation.

Formal jobs, particularly those in the export sector, were presented as the panacea to Haiti’s economic woes and key to helping Haitian men and women move forward.  Yet four years after the January 12 quake, the country has five minimum wages, divided by sector—none of them enough to cover basic expenses, said Molly McCoy, Americas regional program director for the Solidarity Center. “These should be good jobs, but workers are telling us that no one is getting by.”

The Collective of Textile Factory Unions Organization (KOSIT), an alliance of four Solidarity Center partner unions in the garment sector, is calling for a minimum wage that will enable workers to meet their basic needs.

Workers with export-related jobs such as garment assembly, a sector that largely employs women, say they often take home lower than the minimum wage because it is tied to complicated and unreachable quotas. And recent studies point to factories cheating workers out of earned wages, exacerbating the struggle to earn a decent living. Meanwhile, prices in the island nation, a net importer of food and fuel, continue to rise.

As the Solidarity Center reported in 2011 and continues to hear from workers in the capital, Port-au-Prince, workers cannot earn enough to feed and shelter their family, cover transportation to work and send their children to school.

“Haiti needs a single minimum wage that all workers are able to earn—one that people can actually live on,” said McCoy. “Exploitive jobs that mire working people in subsistence lives is the wrong combination for recovery, much less for building Haiti back better.”

Mexican Human Rights Lawyer: Brave Fighter for Social Justice

Alejandra Ancheita, a Mexican human rights lawyer, is featured on Moral Courage TV.

Alejandra Ancheita, a Mexican human rights lawyer, is featured on Moral Courage TV.

Alejandra Ancheita, a Mexican human rights lawyer, bravely fights for social justice and human rights in her country–following in the footsteps of her activist father, who died under questionable circumstances on her eighth birthday.

She founded ProDESC, an organization that fights for economic, social and cultural rights and which is a Solidarity Center partner.

Ancheita regularly receives death and other threats for her support for vulnerable people in her country including as a direct result of her work to support workers and community members trying to win justice from a Canadian mine company in the state of Durango.

Her story is featured on Moral Courage TV.

Story in Spanish here.

Algeria: Autonomous Workers Confederation Files ILO Complaint

Algeria: Autonomous Workers Confederation Files ILO Complaint

The autonomous Algerian Trade Union Confederation—the Confédération Générale Autonome des Travailleurs en Algerie (CGATA), or Autonomous General Algerian Workers Confederation—filed a complaint with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The complaint says the Algerian government’s failure to recognize the union in accordance with the 30-day window as provided for by Algerian law is a violation of the country’s obligations under ILO Convention 87, the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.

The IUF, the global union of food, farm and hotel workers, is hosting an online campaign condemning “acts of intimidation and harassment regularly experienced by independent unionists because of their activities aimed at defending trade union rights in Algeria.”

You can show solidarity with the autonomous Algerian trades’ union movement by sending a message of support through the IUF.

Ukrainian Union: Economic Fairness over Austerity, Autocracy

The KPVU is preparing for a possible strike in Ukraine as mass protests continue this week.

The KPVU is preparing for a possible strike in Ukraine as mass protests continue this week.

The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) is preparing for a possible national strike to call for just economic reform and a more rational approach to solving the country’s financial woes. In a letter published this weekend, they said: “In Ukraine we need economic reform that encourages democracy and addresses the horrible inequalities of wealth in the country, not reforms that target the poor.” They are calling on international support to help them create a path forward “that brings hope to Ukraine.”

Read the full letter.

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