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Haiti should raise garment workers' living wage: Solidarity Center – Fibre2fashion.com

The Solidarity Center, a non-profit organisation, published a report titled ‘The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti: A Living Wage Estimate for Garment Workers in Port-au-Prince’. The report builds on two previous living wage studies the Solidarity Center published in 2014 and 2019 and an unpublished 2011 living wage report that demonstrate the daily minimum wage for garment workers is far less than the estimated cost of living—including in 2019, when inflation was 18.7 per cent. The latest data from May 2022 show Haiti’s inflation rate at 27.8 per cent.
The Solidarity Center estimated the basic cost of living for a garment worker in Port-au-Prince to be $90,928.51 gourdes (about $791.08) per month. The report revealed that based on the standard 48-hour work week, workers must earn at least $2,989.43 gourdes (about $26.01 per day) to adequately provide for themselves and their families. The cost of living in Haiti is more than four times higher than the minimum wage. The cost of living in the Caribbean country has increased by 44.04 per cent since the Solidarity Center’s last assessment in 2019. The minimum wage has increased 63.1 per cent since the Solidarity Center’s last assessment in 2019 due to union advocacy using the living wage studies. Based on the current minimum wage, workers spend almost a third (31.39 per cent) of their take-home pay on transportation to and from work and a modest lunch to sustain their labour.
The report recommends that the Haitian government must ensure that workers earn life-supporting wages. The political establishment should increase the minimum wage to a living wage (est. 2,989.43 gourdes per day) and enable workers to select their representatives and have a voice on the tripartite Superior Council on Wages (CSS). The regular function of the CSS as prescribed by Haitian law should be ensured. Workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining should be fully respected, so that workers are empowered to negotiate wage increases and improved working conditions with employers.
"Employers should respect labour law and core labour rights, especially freedom of association and collective bargaining. Apparel brands sourcing from Haiti should require employers to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining, commercially penalise employers who violate these rights, and commercially reward employers who sign collective bargaining agreements with independent unions," the report states.
The Haitian government should ensure that employers properly compensate workers according to the law, including accurate payment of OFATMA (Employment Injury, Sickness and Maternity Insurance Office) and pension contributions. Apparel brands should closely monitor compliance with the legally required contributions to national health and pension funds and commercially penalise employers who fail to ensure full and complete contributions to these funds.
The Haitian government should improve OFATMA services and quality of care to minimise the cost of private health care for garment workers.
Employers or the government should subsidise work-related expenses, including transportation and lunch. Apparel brands should increase the prices they pay suppliers to share the cost of subsidies.
Apparel brands sourcing from Haiti should commit to not reducing orders but rather increasing what they pay for products should the government increase the minimum wage to a living wage. Employers should standardise and set reasonable production quotas that enable workers to earn a supplement above the minimum wage when they attain established quotas. Such supplements should not require workers to perform overtime or to work at a pace that is harmful to their health and safety.
In addition to a living wage contributing to the dignity of work and the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, it also has the potential to create a positive multiplier effect, leading to reduced poverty and aid dependence; the weakening of push factors that contribute to dangerous migration; and more robust participation in the formal economy and in democratic processes.
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