Read all solidarity statements for Sakuma farm workers here:
Victory to farm workers!
We stand in solidarity with farm workers in Washington State and San Quintin, Mexico who have organized an international boycott of retail products containing berries from Sakuma Bros. Farms, including all berries sold under the Driscolls brand and Haagen Dazs (Nestle) ice cream. These workers have been subject to wage theft, abusive conditions, and impossible production demands.
When workers autonomously organize to fight against exploitation and abuse, we must stand with them in support and solidarity. Workers across industries and borders have a common struggle, and only together can we win!
We pledge to honor the boycott, and urge others to do so, until the farm owners submit to the workers’ demands.
Sudbury, Ontario chapter
Fort Lauderdale, FL chapter
Miami, FL chapter
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
We at Workers Struggle recently got word of you organizing your first ever General Assembly. CONGRATULATIONS! We are in a situation in the world where we face the same exploitation and domination everyday, sometimes we are even robbed by the same companies! Though our day to day conditions and situations are very different, our enemy is the same. Our interests are one with yours. Every victory for your organization(s) is a victory for all of us! If we can build organized solidarity across borders and across waters, we can construct an alternative to the beast running rampant on the world, exploiting workers, attacking peasants, farmers, students, and everyone in between. We extend our hands in solidarity and camaraderie to you and wish you victory in every situation you face! Your strength and determination is inspirational and we stand by your side!
Yours in Struggle,
Workers Struggle-Fort Lauderdale
We received this message (original Kreyol is below):
We, the workers organized in PLASIT, (Platform of Garment Industry Unions) we salute all our comrades who took part in the solidarity response against all the illegal reprisals and abuse we have faced at the hands of the garment industry bosses in Haiti and all their associates in the big brand name multinationals. These bosses have decided to fire and repress us for standing up for our rights, while every day we suffer the injustice of their wages of misery.
Your response to pressure these bosses was very useful and greatly appreciated.
We have decided to stay strong and keep up the fight for our right to living wages, good working conditions and the right to organize in our own unions. To achieve this, we have staged many work stoppages. These actions have led the bosses to negotiate the production quotas with us. We have signed agreements in several factories and we are still in negotiations in others. These negotiations will enable some workers to earn more than 500 gourdes daily, depending on how much we produce. These actions also enabled us to uphold our right for our unions to negotiate with the bosses and fight for our collective demands. This is a step forward. But the struggle does not stop here.
We will keep up the fight for 500 gourdes daily along with social subsidies! We will keep up the fight for the reinstatement of all our fired comrades! Our comrades Télémarque Pierre, Clergé Félixon along with 2 other workers at Palm Apparel have not yet been reinstated. They were fired for having taken part in protests to demand an adjustment to the minimum wage by the government. That is why we stand firm: Down with abusive practices from bosses! Down with misery wages! Down with illegal and arbitrary firings!
It’s up to us workers to stand up together everywhere, along with the support of progressives, and fight this exploitation and domination. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Let’s stay strong together! Long Live the International Solidarity of the Working Class!
TEXTILE FACTORY UNION PLATFORM
[original Kreyol version is below]
Greetings to our Media Friends, radio, newspaper and television covering the Press Conference that PLASIT-BO is giving today. The objective of this conference is to make known our position after the mobilization we launched since this past April 14 to pressure the government to set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94) at the very least and other accompanying demands. We can say that our mobilization did bear fruit because it impeded the offer of 265 Gourdes (US $4.21) that the capitalists wanted to shove down our throats.
Notwithstanding the fact that we are not satisfied with the Executive Order setting the wage at 300 Gourdes (US $4.76) as reference wage and 350 Gourdes (US $5.56) as minimum wage for workers in production, we recognize this will allow us to negotiate with several capitalists on the question of piece work and force them to pay arrears since May First that they owe us, just as this is being done even today as we speak in CODEVI, Ouanaminthe. In addition, we wrote to the president of the Social Affairs Commission of the two branches of Parliament to express our concerns on the 2009 law, which creates a lot of confusion about two minimum wages existing in the sector; they are playing deaf and are dragging their feet with absenteeism in the parliament, while issues that are sensitive and important to the people are at rest in the drawers.
We are denouncing with all our strength acts of repression perpetrated by capitalists such as Alain Villard and Clifford Apaid against many of our comrades, namely the General Coordinator of SOTA-BO and spokesperson of PLASIT-BO, Telemarque Pierre, and the Assistant Coordinator of a SOTA section in Premium Apparel and two other comrades in Palm Apparel after the day of mobilization on May 11 and May 19, 2016, which PLASIT-BO launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage immediately.
Those capitalists, Clifford Apaid and Alain Villard, are simply defending their own interests, not only as reactionary bourgeois, but also, they act according to the dictate from a US Department of Labor memo sent to them after ADIH, which called us ‘terrorists’, in cahoots with Better Work denounced and condemned the so-called acts of violence they said were perpetrated against property and people on the days of mobilization.
The firings represent hallmarks of anti-union and arbitrary discrimination and retaliation. They want to punish union organizers that stand up to fight for just demands on the pretext of violence on the days of our mobilization. While we are fighting for the reinstatement of our comrades who were victims of the repression of the capitalists, we are continuing to fight for other demands associated with wages such as the social benefits we called for in our mobilization, namely, food subsidies, schools for our children, transportation, and social housing. True, we got a little something with Executive Order on the wage adjustment, but the fight is not over. That is why we demand:
- Reinstatement of our comrades, Telemarque Pierre, Clerger Felixon, Cadet Mackenzie and Adrien Jean Anslo immediately in their post unconditionally.
- That the Ministry of Social Affairs launch meetings with the unions, management and the social security institutions to discuss the recommendations that the Supreme Salary Council made in its last report, such as the question of social benefits, and then conclude with a clear resolution to make sure this question is really implemented.
- The Haitian State should provide a mechanism to relaunch negotiations on the reforms to the Labor Code, because the existing code does not conform to the present reality.
- The Supreme Salary Council should make plans to start meeting in the month of July in order to be able to make its recommendations in a timely manner in the month of October as it should.
- The Parliament should make plans to legislate a new law on the minimum wage. The 2009 law is full of confusion and does not conform to today’s reality.
- The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in particular the Free Trade Zone Administration, should immediately stop dragging its feet on the project to build a cafeteria in CODEVI, since the money is already allocated, so workers can eat in a decent environment.
DOWN WITH CAPITALISTS THAT ARE VIOLATING UNION RIGHTS IN THEIR REPRESSION AGAINST UNIONISTS WHO ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR RIGHTS!
LONG LIVE WORKERS WHO ARE DEMANDING LIVING WAGES AND BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS!
MOBILIZATIONS FOR LIVING WAGES AND UNION RIGHTS WILL CONTINUE MORE BOLDLY!
Telemarque Pierre, SOTA-BO
Perrenard REMY, SOKOWA-BO
Port-Au-Prince, June 10, 2016
We received the following call for international solidarity from Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO). Please take action, and send solidarity statements to the workers (info below). Kreyol original is behind the cut.
Following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 that the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) launched to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately, Clifford Apaid, owner of the plant, Premium Apparel, made the decision to fire our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, General Coordinator of Apparel and Textile Workers Union (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson for PLASIT, on Saturday May 14, 2016.
The firing is an act of repression, which is not a surprise to us after we learned of the declarations of capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association), Better Work and USDOL (United States Department of Labor). They are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization. After these declarations of war, we knew the bosses were going to retaliate against us, workers, who are fighting to change our lives.
We denounce the repression against our comrade. We say, “an injury to one is injury to all of us.” We’re calling on our friends and comrades, brothers and sisters in national and international organizations to demand the reinstatement of Telemarque Pierre in his post immediately.
To do so, contact the companies and agencies below :
Premium Apparel (factory): email@example.com
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST), Haiti : firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, you can contact the following:
AGA Corporation (Premium is its subsidiary):
7209 NW 41 St., Miami, FL 33166-6711
Gildan (the international clothing brand that contracts with Premium):
Jason M. Greene, Director of Supply Chain: 843-606-3750
Corporate office (Montreal): 514-735-2023; toll free 866-755-2023; email@example.com
Customer Service (Charleston, SC): 843-606-3600
Twitter: @GildanOnline; facebook.com/GildanOnline/
Use #RehirePierre #SolidarityForever #500Gourdes
Send statements of solidarity directly to the textile workers, and let them know of your activities: firstname.lastname@example.org
[Kreyol original below]
Management has begun a repression campaign following the day of mobilization on May 11, 2016 by the Textile Factory Union Platform-Batay Ouvriye (PLASIT-BO) to demand that the government set the minimum wage at 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday) and publish an Executive Order to make it official immediately. The general coordinator of the Apparel and Textile Workers Union-Batay Ouvriye (SOTA-BO) and spokesperson of PLASIT, Telemarque Pierre, has been fired on Saturday May 14, 2016 with no motive given. This act of repression is not a surprise to us coming from the factory boss, Clifford Apaid. He’s simply acting on his interest not only as a reactionary bourgeois, but also, acting in accordance to the dictates of his masters in United States Department of Labor (U.S.D.O.L.). Capitalist organizations such as ADIH (Haitian Industrialists Association) in mesh with Better Work and U.S. Department of Labor are united to denounce and condemn acts of violence they claim to have been committed against property and people during the day of mobilization.
Cheaply said but badly thought out. Just as May 11, we have become aware that it is through our COLLECTIVE STRUGGLES WE WILL WRESTLE OUR RIGHTS UNDER THE WEIGHT OF CAPITALISTS, THE HAITIAN STATE AND THEIR IMPERIALIST MASTERS. We, the workers, know very well, “an injury to one is injury to all of us in the working class.” Where were ADIH, USDOL and Better Work for the eight (8) months that nothing was said about our minimum wage ?
All of these ravings are a declaration of war against us, workers, who are fighting for a living wage allowing for a better life for our children. They are speaking of violence without thinking about the violence we are subjected to everyday in not being paid a living wage to meet our basic needs such as feeding our children, paying rent, having health insurance even as we work so hard. This is the violence capitalists are perpetrating against us, workers, while the institutions, national as well as international, and the Haitian State, have said nothing against that. They all keep their mouths shut.
It should have been clear to the bosses and their allies, “hungry dogs don’t play!” They are responsible for the conditions that forced us to take to the streets to scream for help so they give us a minimum wage of at least 500 Gourdes ($7.94 for an eight-hour workday). Neither ADIH, Better Work nor USDOL can understand the extreme violence against us when we cannot feed our children dinner everyday after work. We are forced to go and borrow 20 gourdes ($0.32) in order to give our children sweetened water to drink. They are using a few isolated incidents committed during the living wage mobilization to confuse the issue and make the victims appear to be the bullies. In this way, they can launch a repression campaign or take sanctions against union leaders.
That is why we say : The firing of our comrade will not be tolerated. All employers who wish to use the dictates of USDOL to intimidate us, make us afraid to continue to organize or mobilize, we are telling them, WE WILL NOT OBEY! The Fight for social justice will continue! Our comrade is fired for his union activities, demanding a living wage. Union activities such as strikes and marching cannot be motives to fire a union leader. The firing of our comrade is an act of repression, intimidation and interference in the fundamental rights of workers to organize concerted activities to defend their economic and social interests.
We demand the reinstatement of our comrade, Telemarque Pierre, immediately! Why should he lose his job just because he was doing union business for demands of a collective nature? We disagree with the minimum wage of 265 Gourdes ($4.21) the ADIH employers are pushing for. We will not be intimidated nor give up in this fight. The mobilization for a minimum wage of $500 Gourdes and other demands will continue with more vigor! We will rally on Thursday May 19, 2016 to continue our mobilization in front of SONAPI and march to the National Palace.
DOWN WITH REACTIONARY ADIH BOSSES WHO ARE PULLING STRINGS TO STOP US FROM GETTING THIS MEASLY MINIMUM WAGE !
FORWARD WITH THE STRUGGLE OF FACTORY WORKERS WHO DEMAND 500 GOURDES ($7.94) AS MINIMUM WAGE !
THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!
PLASIT-BO/MAY 16, 2016
A news report by Vant Bef Info, May 11, 2016. Translation by Google Translate, slightly edited [original French below]:
Workers of subcontracting firms currently begin (9:30 am) a work stoppage followed by a sit-in outside the offices of the National Society of Industrial Parks (SONAPI) at the airport road, Vant Bef Info learned.
The initiative came from the employees of manufacturing companies located on the airport road, who headed to SONAPI to find the solidarity of other workers.
The protesters are demanding five hundred (500) gourdes as minimum wage and require, among other things, compliance with legal provisions relating to this issue.
All activities are suspended at SONAPI, businesses doors are closed. As the workers demonstrated, agents of the National Police of Haiti appeared on the scene.
There are tensions at times, and vehicular traffic is very difficult in the area of SONAPI.
TEXTILE PLANT UNION PLATFORM
PLASIT-BO (Textile Plant Union Platform – Workers Fight)
TO COMMEMORATE MAY FIRST 2016, WE SAY: WE WON’T OBEY!
MayDay is not “Day of Agriculture and Labor.” It is a day to commemorate the struggles of workers on the planet. To celebrate agriculture and labor is to celebrate a collaboration where workers are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the bourgeois bosses and the latifundistas together with representatives of the reactionary government. That’s an all-out effort to prevent us from commemorating what MAYDAY represents for workers all over the world. They say it’s day of agriculture and labor while there is no real policy for the development of agricultural production or investments to create decent jobs at the very least in the country.
MAYDAY is the commemoration of this gigantic FIGHT THE WORKING CLASS throughout the world carried out in 1886 to achieve an 8-hour workday among other demands. Facing off the bourgeois and their reactionary state, this FIGHT began in the city of Chicago in the United States. Quickly, it spread throughout the country. Then a year later, it covered the whole planet. The reactionaries killed workers and laborers, lynched some of them and deported many others. However, the working class fought back also. They struggled and hit back an eye-for-an-eye. There were even special combat organizations, mass mobilizations, FIGHTS everywhere, for a long time. Finally, the bourgeoisie together with their reactionary state conceded to the workers demand for the 8-hour workday for their earned wages. Haiti is one of a few countries on the planet which does not acknowledge this date and tries to claim it to co-opt workers into class collaboration with the bourgeois bosses. Today, we see through the maneuvers and games of the State where even the governments that claim to be “progressive” show the same reactionary attitude of deviation-cooptation.
That is why PLASIT-BO says: WE WON’T OBEY! We will always wage OUR INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES in the commemoration of MAYDAY. So, in OUR INDEPENDENT MOBILIZATION, in Port-Au-Prince as well as Au Cap, Caracol, and Ouanaminthe, we are raising our immediate demands, namely:
- A living wage to meet the needs of our children, our families and ourselves. We demand 500 gourdes ($7.94) a day at the very least without increasing the quotas, and other social benefits ;
- Good working conditions and respect for our union rights to defend our interests ;
- A new Labor Code that protects all categories of workers against exploitation and humiliation ;
- A social security system that protects us against line-of-duty accidents, illnesses, maternity and old age based on a real social protection net in the country ;
- Comprehensive agrarian reform and technical support for peasants and other laborers in the rural areas ;
- The country to regain its sovereignty to choose its own economic model to create wealth and decent and sustainable work in our territory. And for the State to guarantee a decent living conditions for workers and laborers and their families on the basis of the wealth creation. Therefore, the State must guarantee the social and economic rights of all workers against all national and international capitalists so they don’t step on those rights.
Today, the imperialists, the bourgeoisie and their reactionary State are attempting to disorient our minds on the fraudulent elections; those elections that aggravated the deep structural crisis in the country. Today, the economy is in deep trouble; interference/stewardship and the MINUSTAH military occupation is growing rapidly and threatens our sovereignty as a nation. Therefore, we should not continue to obey this decaying social order. We, workers, laborers, the popular masses in general, to achieve real change in our lives, in the country in general, we must continue to focus on our true interests firmly so we can contribute to the development of a gigantic movement of uprising that will pave the way for a new Haiti.
LET’S COME TOGETHER TO DEFEND OUR INTERESTS!
AGAINST THE BOURGEOIS VIOLATING OUR RIGHTS AND THEIR REACTIONARY STATE!
ONLY A GENREAL MOBILLIZATION WILL HELP US EMERGE FROM THE HOLE WE ARE IN!
LONG LIVE THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!
May First 2016
Press Conference on April 14, 2016
Greetings to all our media friends, print as well as television, that come to provide coverage for the conference that PLASIT, which is Textile Plants Union Platform, to launch the mobilization for the minimum wage adjustment for the year 2015-2016. In PLASIT, we notice that 8 months following the beginning of the fiscal year, the Supreme Salary Council finally made recommendations to the government just as it did for the past 2 years. Thus, the Council has adopted a bad habit of not respecting what is stated in Article 4.1 in the Law of 2009 on the minimum wage.
In the Supreme Salary Council, it’s mainly delaying tactics and plots going on. Management and the two so-called union representatives in the Council are dragging their feet so that management may continue to steal several months of workers’ wages. So, management will have more leeway to continue to pay workers measly wages. The 8-month delay is in the interest of management while prices of all basic items are going up and the Social Affairs Ministry does not urge them to respect Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulating that when the inflation rates increases more than 10%, workers’ wages must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate has reached more than 14.5%. Therefore, the plot against the interests of workers has been consolidated.
We learn that the Council, after 8 months of delaying tactics, proposed a minimum wage of reference of 300 gourdes ($4.76) and the minimum wage for production to be 400 gourdes ($6.35) a day for the textile sector. It’s clear the 300/400gourdes will not solve our problems, especially with the increase in the cost of living, and our purchasing power is plummeting and the value of the gourdes is decreasing in relation to the dollar. For us, at the very least, the minimum wage should be500 gourdes ($7.94) to 1,000 gourdes ($15.87). However, management and their stool-pigeons in the state who get their orders from foreign donors say this will make Haiti non-competitive with other countries. We are denouncing these plot-laden arguments on the backs of workers spilling their blood in the factories.
Report from Garment Workers, CODEVI Free Trade Zone, Ouanaminthe, Haiti
April 9, 2016
For the past 2/3 weeks at the CODEVI plant, there has been a wave of mobilization for wage adjustments. Workers who sew T-shirt hemlines at the MD factory stood up to demand more money for the quota they were asked to do. They had a two-day strike.
This week, the workers who sew jean pants waists at the AM1 plant rose up to demand wage adjustments also.
After their first day of strike, CODEVI fired seven of them. It was when the workers returned, they found out that security agents stopped the seven from re-entering the factory. That activated a second day of strike in solidarity with the fired workers. The workers were in the factory already. However, when they learned that seven of them were fired (two fired based on article 42, and five fired based on article 37), they began to mobilize inside the plant. So the other factories joined in.
After lunch, the workers didn’t return to the plant but instead took to the streets in Ouanaminthe to protest and voice their demands.
They chanted all kinds of slogans. Some demanded wage increases, others demanded the return of the ONA insurance moneys taken from them each payroll (this is pension money). Problem is that the workers don’t see the necessity to put money away in a pension fund for later in life. They have no confidence in ONA insurance as a public institution. They protested on the streets of Ouanaminthe until they reached the offices of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. In the negotiations that began, there was an agreement on quotas. But there was no change in articles 42 and 37 for the 2 fired workers. This was what motivated the workers to take the mobilization to the streets to denounce CODEVI for the decision to fire the 7 workers and the question of wages or quotas they are forced to do.
Following this great demonstration of strength on the part of the workers, as they returned the next day, CODEVI agreed to:
One morning of March 2016 a couple of organizers with Workers Struggle hit the streets of south Florida to reach workers who we heard are very unhappy, overworked and could use some help from the outside to jump-start an organized struggle. Organizers targeted a very large supermarket distribution hub/warehouse with leaflets for the upcoming May Day 2016 event.
This was the second time to hit this location after the first time, a week prior, security guards on golf cart rolled up on organizers handing out leaflets and asked them to leave as they were on “private property.” This time organizers stood at the street on the public sidewalk and passed leaflets to cars driving in and out at their shift changed discovered to be ~6am when the influx of traffic hit.
Organizers approached cars saying, “I have an invitation for a free movie showing about a group of workers who organized themselves for higher wages and better conditions. We hear things are bad in here and we want to come together with you to learn what we can do and how to organize”
A couple of different workers separately said emphatically “YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE”. More than one called it “Legalized Slavery” and many sympathized with the need for more money for wage and better conditions overall.
One worker said, “you see what time it is? I got here at [X time] yesterday, this is slavery in here!!” Looking at the clock, that meant he just worked a 16 hour shift. He yelled, “call the news! we need help!” as they drove off in a long van with ~7 workers inside. Presumably, a transport service provided by the contract labor agencies.
Another worker who exited the bus at the bus stop in front of the facility said, “there’s about 5 different bossmen operating in there” (bossmen meaning companies, he said), and “you get paid a set amount per day (presumably for 8 hrs of work) but usually we work 12-16 hours for that amount.” He said there’s some fellows working on suing the company and he is hopeful that will force them to change. We implored him to join us on May Day to learn how we can build momentum together in organizing that goes even beyond a potential lawsuit.
Several workers said they will be there on May Day event, if they are off work.
The folowing was sent to us from Batay Ouvriye. On March 11, Batay Ouvriye took part in a press conference with JILAP to denounce the abuse against landless peasants in Corail, 5th Section Delice, Arcahaie at the hands of communal authorities in the area. Following are the statements made by three organizations at the press conference [Kreyol originals follow English translations]:
Statement of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight):
We, members of Batay Ouvriye, we are present at the table, first of all, because the organization of landless peasants laborers in Corail (OPTK) is an organization of Batay Ouvriye Arcahaie. We are denouncing the anti-organization character of all State authorities in the country, all the misdeeds and abuse imposed on Organized peasants and laborers at the hands of the three communal members, 5th Section, Delice, in the Arcahaie Commune, in particular a communal official called Joseph Pierre Rene.
They fear independent peasant laborers’ independent organizations, they cannot corrupt them in small NGO projects; the organized peasant laborers take courage in their two hands to raise and demand that what’s happening in the section be done according to their rights and interests. This is why Batay Ouvriye calls on the peasant laborer organizers to continue to consolidate their organizational work and actions that put forward their interests despite attempts from some to make them afraid. Batay Ouvriye will be present in a course of action to bring those bully communal officials to justice.
Long Live the struggle of the all organized Peasant Laborers in the country!
DOWN WITH A STATE POWER THAT SUPPORTS CRIMINAL STATE OFFICIALS!
Today, three representatives from the Landless Peasant Organization in Corail (OPTK) together with Justice and Peace organized a press conference to denounce the abuse and injustice imposed on them by the Administrative Council of Communal Section, 5th Section Delis, Arcahaie. Justice and Peace (JILAP) often works together with Batay Ouvriye in many different resistance and mobilization in Arcahaie.
In many rural areas in the country, administrative council members and other authorities supporting them, are assaulting small peasants who own a small lot or nothing at all (day laborers, agri-workers…) to steal their land or expel them from state-owned land they’ve occupied for years, or to dominate them as agri-workers who will work for multinationals soon to come in line with the imperialist plans to swamp us.
The Arcahaie examples show the LOGIC of the neo-liberal capitalist penetration that the imperialists want to push down the throats of workers, laborers, and the popular masses in general… with the help of Big Eaters and puppets of all stripes. This penetration is repressive, and violent. For that, just as the state leadership, there are repressive acts on the laborers.
The Arcahaie example is one, but there is a myriad of such acts in all rural areas in the country. THE STRUGGLE IS EVERYWHERE! It is necessary for all comrades, laborers of every kind, progressives, and all combatants…to see clearly that the penetration is happening throughout the country. Against all of us!
THE STRUGGLE HAS JUST BEGUN!
Kreyol original text is below.
The following leaflet was distributed in front of the SONAPI industrial park (with textile and garment factories) for March 8:
March 8, 1910 – March 8, 2016 makes 106 years since Clara Zetkin, a German militant woman who had fire in her spirit, proposed a day to commemorate the struggles that women, the factory workers and laborers in general, carried out to change their working and living conditions. March 8th was chosen to remember the great strike that textile workers had in the year 1857 in the United States for better wages, working conditions and other rights such as voting rights for women in elections.
Therefore, March 8th is rooted in the struggles that working class women led.
Today, what is our reality as working class women in the factories? Where are we on the road to the emancipation of women everywhere on Earth? In our case, in the factories, we have some mileage to go yet. We are experiencing sexual harassment from the male supervisors and managers just to have a little bit more money to pay our rents or to pay food peddlers we owe. When we are pregnant, we go through great hardships. There are no chairs for us to rest our backs, no breaks for the two daily rest periods, no lunch period; they still fire us for being pregnant at work, no time to feed our babies as the Labor Code requires. They force us to wait until we give birth to pay us maternity leave. Except for one industrial park in the country, there is no nursery for our infants when we work.
So, the whole load of exploitation in the factories, and housework, is with our children on our backs. As women, we are fathers and mothers for our children. Our wages do not reflect the family needs.
March 8 is a day for us to reflect on all those questions concerning working class women and to make a commitment to change this situation we are facing together with other workers like us. It’s a day for us to take a resolution to enter the struggle to liberate ourselves as exploited women, in the great struggle to break the exploitation and domination by the bourgeoisie and their allies and really change the country. Thus, we shall have better living wages, health care or social services, conditions we are lacking as working class women today. For these reasons, workers must come into the struggle for real liberation and emancipation of society.
This is what the commemoration of this day, March 8th,requires of us; it’s not just a question of saying to women, ‘Happy March 8th;’ it’s a day of commemoration of the struggles of exploited and dominated working class women! Let’s stand up behind our demands!
LONG LIVE THE INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES OF WORKING CLASS WOMEN FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN AND MEN!
LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLES OF THE WORKING CLASS WORLDWIDE!
MARCH 8, 2016
The original leaflet in Kreyol:
Kanmarad Ouvriye/Ouvriyèz nan faktori rad yo ak lòt Travayè/Travayèz,
STATEMENT FROM MAY FIRST UNION FEDERATION/WORKERS FIGHT
ENTE-SENDIKAL PREMYE ME/BATAY OUVRIYE
FEBRUARY 7, 2016
(Kreyol version is below)
Today, February 7, 2016, we, workers, peasants, laborers in diverse economic categories in the country, raise our voices to warn that we will not continue to accept the conditions of life allotted to us. Since the big mobilization that ousted the repressive government that took away our rights in 1986, we hoped for changes in our conditions of life and work. However, unfortunately, our situation has worsened! In 2016, we continue to be under such a crisis that keeps us from seeing where our country is heading. But with our determination, we will continue to fight; we will continue to resist against all political maneuvers and threats pointing at our heads to take away our rights as workers.
As to where this big political crisis brings us today, the word of the day is ‘transition.’ We say, during the short time it will last, the roadmap of the transitional government must take into account the demands of the workers, peasants, and laborers in the formal economy, private and public, in the informal sector in urban and rural areas, so they can breathe. Among other things, we demand that the transitional government:
- Take measures to lower the cost of living, and the country should be put on the path to national production. The inflation rate at 12.5% is gobbling up the measly income we acquire in hardship or in other activities that barely help our families survive.
- Increase the base minimum salary for all categories of workers and set up a multi-sectorial tripartite entity to propose a social benefits program such as for food, transportation, housing, schools for our children or for ourselves. There must be a salary grid with a career ladder for public sector workers, and a social protection program which allows workers in the informal sector to benefit from a social security plan.
- Pay wages due to all public school teachers, teachers in the PSUGO program (Free Universal and Mandatory School Program) and all public sector workers.
- Challenge the impunity that management enjoys in violating the rights of workers in the factories, laborers in the production establishments for local markets, in government jobs, in the service and commercial sectors to form unions.
INTERVENTION by PLASIT-BO
(Platfòm Sendikal Izin Tekstil – Batay Ouvriye / Platform of Textile Plant Unions – Workers Fight) –
PRESS CONFERENCE, JANUARY 21, 2016
PLASIT takes notice that it’s been three years since the Supreme Wage Council was created and it has not respected Article 4.1 of the 2009 Wage Law. The Council always makes its recommendations too late every year while the executive also never publish the decisions based on the council’s recommendations at the beginning of the fiscal year in October. They usually wait eight months to adjust the minimum wage either for textile workers and laborers in other sectors. Again, it’s been five months and no recommendations have been made. Its foot-dragging and delaying tactics going on without taking into account the cost of living is rising because of the devaluation of the gourde. In addition, the government substantially increases the presidential security budget and doubles the incomes of the provisional electoral council members who are organizing sham elections pushing the country into political crisis. So, those who are destroying the country are awarded while those who are creating wealth with their blood and sweat get nothing.
In this situation, PLASIT is denouncing firmly the delaying and absentee tactics of management in the supreme wage council; the government representative presiding over the council has not taken responsibility in demanding that management send in a substitute to stop the absentee tactic leading to the failure to adjust the minimum wage in a timely manner. Here we cannot forget some union representatives in the council are in cahoots with the bosses. So, we feel trapped!
Considering the prices of basic items don’t stop rising everyday where the economic and social situation of the country has gotten worse because of the grave political crisis rocking it. This causes the popular masses, and the workers in particular to be lost. We are reminding the wage council, it was since October First the wages were adjusted as stated in the 2009 Law. This time, we are not waiting eight months again to get the wage increase. Besides, Article 137 of the Labor Code stipulates when the inflation rate increases by 10%, the minimum wage must be adjusted. Today, the inflation rate is at 12%, the council has made no recommendations to help the workers and laborers breathe.
We should say that there are union representatives who have suggested a minimum wage increase of 375 gourdes ($6.25) a day and 475 gourdes ($7.92) a day as the production wage for textile workers. As such, management proposes in a subtle way a minimum wage of 255 gourdes. In PLASIT, we think those two proposals don’t meet the needs of the workers considering the socio-economic reality today. The owner of the corpse must watch the corpse!
In the sugar plantations or bateyes of Dominican Republic, cane cutters often work barefoot. They can’t afford shoes. They can barely afford food, for that matter, despite the fact that they often work a minimum of 12 hours a day, doing the back-breaking work of cutting sugar cane by hand.
On the other side of the border that divides Hispaniola, Haitian garment workers in Port Au Prince recently blockaded a Korean factory because of bounced paychecks. For years, Haitian garment workers have been fighting wage theft and to be paid the inadequate legal minimum wage – which is still not enough to live off of, much less dignified.
“Whatever the product is – the pair of pants, the t-shirt – we are the ones producing it. We labor hard, and don’t get paid.” – Haitian garment worker of SOTA in Port Au Prince
This weekend Unión De Trabajadores Cañeros De Los Bateyes (Union of the Bateyes of Sugarcane Workers) and Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA) (Union of Textile and Garment Workers) will meet to discuss their common struggles against exploitation. Specifically, they are meeting about recent actions of the DR government to strip people of Haitian descent of their citizenship. This has mostly affected the poor – cane cutters, street vendors, and service laborers. In bringing attention and their perspective to this struggle, the groups intentions are to put down false divisions of racism and nationalism, with the goal of working together against their common enemy – the Haitian and Dominican ruling classes.
SOTA is affiliated with the autonomous workers organization, Batay Ouvriye (BO) (Workers Fight), which will host a series of meetings, a press conference, and direct action in Port Au Prince.
According to one event organizer, “They will be three Haitian cane workers, one Dominican cane worker and the coordinator of the union. The presence of the Dominican cane worker is to deny the nationalist option and to put the class situation in concrete relief, in contrast to the bourgeois organizations here who pretend to defend their ‘compatriots.'”
There is a long history of animosity between Haiti and Dominican Republic. Both nationalism and racism are deeply rooted. The DR won its independence, not from European colonialists, but from Haiti. Since then, Haitians living in the DR have faced discrimination, and thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were massacred under Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo.
In 2013, the Dominican Supreme Court retroactively withdrew citizenship from anyone born in the DR to undocumented immigrants, with the provision that persons who submitted the proper documentation could apply for legal residency. The deadline for this application was summer 2015. However, many who submitted this paperwork, along with hundreds of dollars in fees, never received any notice or proper documentation from the government. Thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent left the DR, or were rounded up and dropped at the Haitian/Dominican border, often without being able to gather their belongings or to alert their families.
UPDATE: On morning of December 9, 2015 garment workers in Port-au-Prince continue their protest against nonpayment of wages by the manufacturer. The Labor Minister came out to speak to them.
This is what an autonomous workers’ movement looks like!
Report from Haiti on November 30, 2015:
The Korean-owned garment factory gave paychecks with insufficient funds. The government promised the workers they would pay the workers themselves but they never did. This protest is going on right now in SONAPI industrial park.
The workers closed the factory by blocking the front with branches. Since this morning with posters in hand, they wanted to block the whole park but did not have the capacity for that. They are at present continuing the mobilization at the factory.
July 28 Events — Batay Ouvriye
To mark the 100th Anniversary of the 1915 American occupation, at Batay Ouvriye, we either organized many activities or participated in some in various localities in Haiti.
In Port-Au-Prince, because the workers were not off on July 28, we organized a meeting on Sunday July 26 in our hall near the airport. There was a photo exhibit we put together a long time ago that we invited comrades to see. It attracted a lot of curiosity. Then, we had a very animated conference-debate on the 1915 occupation, its national and international causes and all of its consequences on life in the country today, particularly from the standpoint of the position and interest of the working class. The conference-debate was based on the document “Popular Interest #3” that circulated among us.
On the day of July 28, in the afternoon, in front of SONAPI and many other areas of concentration of sweatshops in particular, we distributed a Batay Ouvriye (BO) document, which was a summary of the Popular Interest (EP-3) text.
On the morning of July 28, we participated, distributing the same summary, in a demonstration the MPDP (Popular Democratic and Patriotic Movement) organized starting from the Faculty of Ethnology to the Faculty of Human Sciences to mark the July 28 occupation and the current MINUSTAH presence in the country as a new occupation, no less. At the Faculty of Human Sciences, in the context of the event MPDP organized, one of our comrades presented a conference on misdeeds that during the first occupation were committed at the cultural level in particular. Likewise, a few weeks ago, we participated in a national and international conference MPDP organized on the epoch with a presentation-debate, this time, on the labor movement then.
Attached is a report with pictures of the activities of the Union of Sugar Cane Cutters in the Dominican Republic, the sit-in they have maintained in front of the national palace beginning on February 25 and also the march, which as predicted, occurred on Wednesday March 18 of this week.
One must say that the latter, under the pretext of blocking traffic, was at first prohibited, as we can see from the attached letter from the Minister of the Interior and Police, M. Jose Ramon Fadul. But what march does not interfere with traffic? It is that in this precise case, rocky relations between the two nations on workers pose a controversial and complex context. At the same time, worldwide bourgeois democracy shows the real face of the permanent dictatorship on the peoples, toilers and the working class in particular, of which the sugarcane cutters are a part of in the Dominican Republic. The demonstration had therefore very little chance of succeeding.
Statement from Faiezul Hakim,
President of the Bangladesh Trade Union Federation
May 30, 2014
In Bangladesh, the garment workers are now very much class conscious. Especially, this has increased after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, a suburb near the capital Dhaka last year, on 24th April 2013. In addition, the people of Bangladesh are also now concerned about garment workers’ conditions, like their wages, lifestyle, etc. The exception is the ruling class.
In 2013, the present Government declared wages for the garment workers through a Wage Commission. It was a farce. This commission declared the minimum basic wage for a garment worker to be 5,300 Bangladeshi Taka [BDT] (1 US dollar was equivalent to 80 BDT), where the basic wage is 3,200 BDT excluding house rent , medical allowance, transportation, education allowance, etc.
The trade unions linked with left parties demanded 8000 BDT as a total monthly wage. This is also the demand of SKOP, an organization of workers and employees. In contrast, we Bangladesh Trade Union Federation raised the demand of 18,000 BDT (where the basic wage is 10,000 BDT).
We also raised the question: on what basis did you people fix the wages? According to our calculation, one adult person needs 3200 calories per day, and according to this we can find the monthly food expenditure for a 4-member of a family in Bangladesh (especially in Dhaka) to be now around 10,000 BDT. Now we want to add house rent, transportation, medical allowance, allowance for children’s education, etc. It will be then 18,000 BDT (though house rent in the city is different from the periphery).