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Textile workers strike, demand higher minimum wage


PORT-AU-PRINCE — Several hundred factory workers marched in the streets of Delmas on May 8 and 9 to demand better working conditions, an increase in the minimum wage and more social benefits. They also vowed to keep protesting for a month if the Haitian government does not act quickly.

“The minimum wage should be set at 2,500 gourdes or $18 USD,” a protesting worker told the local press. “The Haitian state must turn its gaze to the thousands of employees in the subcontracting sector who receive but a pittance.”

Organizers chose May for the two-day protest because the month is a time to commemorate Haitian heritage and labor. A protest held May 1, Haiti’s Labor and Agriculture Day, already kicked off the month.

During Tuesday’s protest, police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowd at Delmas 17, striking at least one worker in the head with a gas canister. 


Early Tuesday, protesters marched from the Industrial Park of the National Society of Industrial Products, (SONAPI) on Delmas, traveled through the road to the Toussaint Louverture airport and ended up at the Carrefour Aéorport — known as Carrefour Resistance. They sought to go further to Musseau, to the front of the official residence of Prime Minister Ariel Henry to make their demands.

“Along with our demands to increase the minimum wage and social support for workers, we are demanding that factory bosses reimburse us the money from the monthly allocations for the National Aging Insurance Office (ONA) that they’ve kept since we have no benefits,” said Dominique St. Eloi, general coordinator of the National Coordination of Haitian Workers (CNOHA), a labor union.

“This money belongs to workers in the textile sector,” St. Eloi said.

Government authorities and the private business sector are responsible for the catastrophic situation in the textile sector in Haiti, he added.

The workers carried signs, tree branches and called on the authorities to pay attention to the worsening of the living conditions of the workers with the increase in the prices of basic necessities and of the insecurity climate. 


Workers said the 685 gourdes ($5 USD) they currently receive as daily wages isn’t enough to meet their daily needs and care for their families. According to the latest report by the Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d’Informatique (IHSI), inflation rose by 48.2% from February 2022.

IHSI said the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages are up 1.2% for the month of February and 48% over for the year. Clothing and footwear increased by 1.8% for the month and 46.1% for the year. With regard to housing, water, gas, electricity and other fuels are at 1.8% for February and 45.1% during the year. Health expenditure for drugs rose to 45.9% and eyeglasses correctors to 60.3% for the year.  

“Since the prices of goods are constantly rising in the country, nothing can be done with this pitiful salary of 685 gourdes,” Dorisca Jacinthe, a SONAPI worker, told local media during Tuesday’s protest.

“We are demanding 2,500 [gourdes] as the minimum wage to manage the price increase,” adds Jacinthe, an increase equivalent to $18 USD daily.

Jacinthe said the demonstrations will last the whole month if authorities “do not want to listen to reason.”


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