Haiti garment workers strike for higher wages

By Vivian Sahner
March 21, 2022
Haiti garment workers strike for higher wages
Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol

Thousands of garment and other workers, above, took to the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, Feb. 17 demanding higher wages. Police fired into a Feb. 23 protest after the workers went on strike. Maxihen Lazzare, a reporter for Roi des Infos, was killed and five workers were injured. 

It was the first day of a three-day strike by factory workers demanding a pay raise. Wages have been about 500 gourdes ($4.80) for a nine hours’ workday. The action followed weeks of protests over pay and working conditions at factories that export to U.S. retailers. There has been double-digit inflation in the country for the last four years. Strikers said salaries haven’t been raised in three years. The government’s offer of a 185 gourdes increase only enraged strikers. 

“People can’t do anything with this miserable salary,” said Jean Wilkens Pierre. The 39-year-old worker said it barely covers food and transportation. Dominique St. Eloi, a coordinator for the National Union of Haitian Workers, said the strikers are demanding a daily minimum of 1,500 gourdes. 

More than 53,000 people work in Haiti’s garment factories, which account for three-quarters of Haiti’s exports. At least 62 U.S.-owned companies have factories there, making clothes for Target, Under Armour, Hanes and others.