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Haiti: Criminal Minimum Wage 1 commentsRecent Articles about Central America / Caribbean Workplace struggles
Mobilizasyon salè minimòm nan Pòtoprens Nov 28 13
Press Release On The Question Of The Minimum Wage Being Debated Among Government Officials
central america / caribbean | workplace struggles | other libertarian press Saturday January 24, 2009 05:03 by BO - Batay Ouvriye batayouvriye at hotmail dot com
The minimum wage is being debated today (a long debate, that the « authorities » are prolonging with no end in sight) but it also being carried out. This openly contradicts all the so-called « impossibilities » these predators put forward to extend their good times. So, they, alone, will have to answer for the powder keg they are pushing closer to the fire.
In Parliament as in the Executive (the latter through the Ministry Social Affairs and Labor), the minimum wage debate is on the table. Let’s note that it already has been in discussion for over two years now, although according to the law, the minimum wage should be adjusted whenever the inflation rate exceeds 10% a year (Article 137 of the Labor Code). As it had been – already lowering – shrunken to 70 gourdes in 2003, it has been therefore a little over five years since different governments have engaged in this illegal practice! Since it’s a working class issue, we’re not surprised: these bureaucrats have a clearly chosen camp, that of the bosses, who they strive to be like, so they serve them the best they can.
Concerning all the shilly-shallying going on today, supposedly to suggest an « average » or mean between both “sides”, we’ve already demonstrated the absurdity of such a notion (see our March 23, 2008 press release : “The Minimum Wage of 150 gourdes Is Unacceptable as well as Illegal »). We believe that this text is still on the agenda and therefore add it to this file.
This note, however, attempts to go further, demonstrating once more, as much as necessary, the degree to which the bourgeoisie is blood-thirsty and the subservience of the governments at its service.
So, we inform the media, and in this way, the public in general, as well as the « authorities » in particular, of 3 important gains secured by our comrades. Far from insignificant, these gains must be understood as part and parcel of the current debate.
First, the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed between the Free Trade Zone Plant, (CODEVI) and SOKOWA, the workers’ Union in Ouanaminthe: (we're introducing the first page of the document for verification; the complete text can be found on our site www.batayouvriye.org - http://tinyurl.com/9vwlho). Obtaining a Collective Bargaining Agreement is of paramount importance, showing concretely the unity of workers in a plant. But what’s key here, beyond the news as such, is that NOT ONE of the Haitian employers agrees to obey the law setting the pre-conditions for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, even when the workers meet all of the requirements (as we can readily illustrate in many cases that have emerged in our struggles on this question).
Secondly, we are pleased to announce that the workers at the Marnier Lapostolle plant (producing for Grand Marnier liqueur), in the North, have reached a minimum wage of 380 gourdes a day, after annual wage adjustment negotiations with a delegation directly from France. A year ago, the day laborers were making 345 gourdes a day; at the latest adjustment, the wage went up to 380.00 gourdes/day. In a press release then, we said that to establish this principle of wage adjustment which is standard and strictly legal, with the French firm, the workers in a very hard struggle had to push aside the Haitian bosses who opposed this concept ferociously. Once a direct contact was established with the French company, the talks went on immediately and the principle was accepted.
But, there is more. The American company «Knights Apparel, Inc » which manufactures t-shirts intends to set up soon at the Free Trade Zone in Ouanaminthe. Based on calculations done by the « Workers Rights Consortium » which supports our comrades of the SOKOWA Union, Knights accepted and promised, late in 2008, to pay the workers the amount of US $337.12 a month, which comes out, when divided by 24, to a daily salary of about 560.00 gourdes at least! Furthermore, the company commits itself to funding the construction of related services necessary to life outside work inside the Free Trade Zone (cafeteria, daycare, and health clinics…). Whoever wishes to hear: 560.00 gourdes a day!
One recalls when Mr. Argant, the then head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and representative of the bosses in the tripartite commission, meeting about the minimum wage, upheld, without any decency, that the subcontracting industry could give more than 7 gourdes of wage adjustment (!), that it could not pay more than 77.00 gourdes without going into bankruptcy (!!!): we are shocked at how outrageous these bourgeois’ attitudes are, particularly in this country, so destroyed, so humiliated, and in such a social deadlock.
When we recall the convoluted maneuvers of the past representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor who tried to make us swallow this adjustment of 150.00 gourdes – « an average » that they had the so-called « wisdom » to come up with in finale! To hear again today these parliamentarians vociferate about this measly 200.00 gourdes which, according to them, is « more fair »!...We are forced to point to a real plot (the word is not too strong) these people are scheming behind the backs of the Haitian workers, and by extension, on the backs of the entire Haitian people. One may say: « as always ! ». True. However, it is never excessive to expose over and over again, in broad daylight, their sadism and their lies.
These « news » that we are again pleased to communicate are presented not only to inform about the gains that our comrades have achieved during the 2008 but also, and perhaps especially, as we said at the beginning of this text, to expose the intense cruelty of the Haitian bourgeois and the vile and servile character of all the State officials at their service. The minimum wage is being debated today (a long debate, that the « authorities » are prolonging with no end in sight) but it also being carried out. This openly contradicts all the so-called « impossibilities » these predators put forward to extend their good times. So, they, alone, will have to answer for the powder keg they are pushing closer to the fire.
Port-Au-Prince, Monday January 19, 2009
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