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:
1) Make changes in article 42 and 37 for the 2workers;
2) Reduce the quotas for a period of 8 weeks; and if they should increase the quota, it must be done gradually;
3) Pay the workers in part for the 3 days of strike
4) Adjust wages as soon as the government establishes the minimum wage this year; all the workers expect this to happen by May Day.
We can say for the most part this is a victory. The CODEVI workers noted it’s a small victory but CODEVI backed off in the face of this mobilization notwithstanding its get-tough attitude. Now, it’s up to the leadership of the union to keep up the struggle with the workers. This is proof of solidarity, unity among the workers.
They’ve demonstrated they can change power relations.
There were 2 factories at the plant that did not participate in the mobilization. They apparently earn better wages than those that were protesting. Here again, that shows the limit of solidarity within the class. It is a struggle to show the worker not to see only herself or himself. We also have to be vigilant. Because CODEVI may back off for now but in 3-4 weeks bring back the same nonsense. It may come back with the backbreaking quotas. Therefore, it’s a small victory, again, there are bigger battles yet to come.
Not sou mobilizasyon nan Codevi
Depi 2/3 semenm nan Codevi gen yon van mobilizasyon k ap soufle pou ajisteman sale. Ouvriye ki fe operasyon woulet ba nan izin MD te kanpe pou mande yo mete plis kob sou kote yo mande yo a. Yo te fè 2 jou grev. Nan semen sa a, Ouvriye ki monte senti nan pantalon jeans nan Am1 kanpe mande yon ajisteman nan sale yo tou, Apre yon premye jou grev, Codevi revoke 7 nan yo. Le yo tounen, ajan sekirite anpeche 7 nan yo rantre. Sa vin deklanche yon 2e jou grèv an solidarite ak sa ki revoke yo. Ouvriye yo te fin rantre nan izin lan. Men le yo aprann yo te revoke 7 nan yo. Gen 2 li bay atik 42 epi lot 5 yo se sou baz atik 37 yo revoke yo. Yo te komanse mobilize anndan pak la. KOnsa lot izin te vin ralye a yo. Apre poz manje yo pat tounen anndan pak la, yo te pran lari Wanament pou manifeste epi pote revandikasyon yo.
Yo te lanse tout kalite slogan. Sa ki mande ogmantasyon sale, sa ki mande pou yo renmet kob ONA yo pran sou yo chak fwa yo touche.(A siyale se kob pansyon li ye. Men ouvriye y opa we nesesite mete kob sou kote nan yon fon pansyon pou pita, Y opa fe ONA kom enstitisyon piblik konfyans.) Yo te manifeste nan lari Wanament epi li te rive devan biwo Ministe Afe sosyal ak Travay.Nan negosyasyon ki te komanse fet yo, te komanse jwenn yon ako sou bese tarif yo. Men pat sou chanje atik 42 pou 37 pou 2 ouvriye revoke yo. Se aspe sa a ki te plis motive yo kenbe mobilizasyon an nan pran lari pou denonse Codevi pou desizyon revokasyon 7 ouvriye yo ak kesyon sale oswa tarif yo gen you fe yo.
Apre gwo demonstrasyon de fos sa a ke ouvriye yo te fe, le yo tounen lelandemen, Codevi te asepte :
- Chanje atik 42 pou atik 37 pou 2 ouvriye yo ;
- Redyi sou tarif yo pou yon peryod 8 semen. E si y ap tounen a tarif li te ye a, se gradyelman pou sa ta fet ;
- Yo rive fe Codevi peye an pati 3 jou grev yo ;
- Ajisteman sale ap fet depi gouvenman an ta fikse sale minimom lan ane sa a. Tout ouvriye ap tann sa fet premye me.
Nou kapab di angwo se yon viktwa. Ouvriye Codevi yo rapote. Li piti men Codevi fe bak fas a mobilizasyon sa a malgre li te gen yon atitid dan di. KOunye a se direksyon sendika a ki pou kontinye menmen batay la ak ouvriye yo. Se yon prev de solidarite. Inite nan mitan ouvriye yo. Yo montre yo kapab chanje rapo de fos yo.
Te gen 2 izin nan pak la ki pat patisipe nan mobilizasyon an. Yo aparaman touche pi byen ke sa ki te kanpe yo. La anko sa montre limit solidarite a nan klas la. Se yon batay sa dwe ye pou ouvriye a pa annik we tet pa li selman. Fok gen vijilans tou. Paske Codevi ka fe bakkounye a epi nan 3-4 semenn li residive. Li retounen ak pratik tarif pete fyel yo. Kidonk, se yon ti viktwa, se yon aki ki fet. Gen pi gwo batay toujou.