Haitian textile workers entered their third week on strike Friday, vowing to continue fighting for better working conditions.
Marxist Humanist Initiative reported that PLASIT-BO, a federation of textile trade unions affiliated with Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), an independent workers movement, has assisted the strike, which has spread to the country's four main cities: Port Au Prince, Carrefour, Ounaminthe and Caracol.Their core demands include a minimum wage increase from roughly US$5.50 to US$12.60 per day, protections against quota increases and access to social services for all workers.
They also noted that production quotas are set high, that factory owners and management mistreat workers, and that workers' salaries often amount to less than the current minimum wage.
Apart from these malfeasances, union organizers, cognizant that their co-workers receive the lowest wage in the Western Hemisphere, are frequently pestered by management and arbitrarily fired simply for demanding their legal rights.
"It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future in this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union, told the AP.
Still, the Association of Haitian Industries claimed that lone “militants and syndicalists” were responsible for beating workers, forcing them to join the picket lines in favor of improved work conditions.Despite working hours that normally range between 12-16 hours per day, garment workers, according to It's Going Down, are known to live in debt, hungry and on the brink of homelessness.
Since the strike began, protesters have been able to close down dozens of textile factories in Port Au Prince and blocked the road leading to Toussaint Louverture International Airport.