We are sharing an update regarding the struggle we reported on back in May at CODEVI Free Trade zone in Ounaminthe, Haiti where workers went on strike against tax hikes for social services that they never received. The strike involved thousands of people but Group M (who operates the free trade zone,) targeted workers involved in the SOKOWA & SAKAD trade unions and illegaly fired them. SOKOWA & SAKAD are autonomous worker’s organizations affiliated with Batay Ouvriye - the autonomous worker’s movement in Haiti.
On June 26th and July 3rd, respectively, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (of the North American West Coast) and the International Transport Workers Federation (a federation of unions from 147 countries) sent the following two letters to Fernando Capellan, owner of "Grupo M", telling him to reinstate over 100 garment workers he fired for striking against their unfair payroll taxes.
Capellan would do well to take the advice in these letters. These letters prove that the number of working people in the world who are aware of this unjust mass firing is growing, and that working people are preparing to take appropriate action, both through their trade unions and any other necessary means, to see that their fellow workers receive at least a bit of dignity and respect (such as getting their jobs back with full back pay included.
The ILWU letter is available: HERE
The ITF letter is available: HERE
OTHER NECESSARY MEANS
In the US and Internationally we have witnessed a consistent increase in attacks by capitalists against working people. We’re all fed up! We’re tired of being exploited and dominated and we are starting to show it. It is important at this time for us to understand the inter-connectivity of our struggles.
What goes on in social formations (countries) dominated by imperialism is related to what goes on here. Haitian garment workers are producing for American and other international markets. The cost of their labor is ridiculously cheap because workers in the United States historically organized and fought for higher wages, so capital fled there and to other countries like Bangladesh, Honduras, Vietnam, etc. The same factories they close here, they open over there.
Capitalists understand their class interests and we should understand ours. The world economy is integrated. The whole economic, political, and social reality we face today is a complicated societal arrangement full of interrelations and contradictions - a complex model. That model is called capitalism and it is built off the foundation of a class antagonism between capital and labor. We do not share the same interests as the capitalist class, and history has shown us this.
At this political moment of an intense structural crisis, we need to recognize ourselves as the class of workers with common interests we are so we can start building our own autonomous organizations that will become our base of power.
This means we need to construct totally new types of organizations and totally new relationships and practices with new ways of looking at the world and engaging into it. These letters came out as a result of workers recognizing their common interests across seas and pushing for them. This is a great start! The consciousness that informs us of our commonalities as workers and laborers no matter where we are (the proletarian perspective), is a seed for something greater. We would like to clarify that the Rapid Response Network is a great place for international solidarity.
However, when workers specifically take action in the interests of workers across borders this goes beyond solidarity and enters the realm of proletarian internationalism which we will elaborate on in future articles. For now, we must keep that consciousness growing. We need to unify our struggles and construct a combative worker’s movement with all sorts of organizations that’ll take many forms - depending on unique historical circumstances.
Labor struggles at the trade union level are important but on their own they have their limitations. We need to be building parallel autonomous organizations from the unions as well as organizations in our neighborhoods, intermediate level organizations like Workers Struggle that can connect the puzzle of the bigger picture into a common combative movement beyond the immediate work site or neighborhood, and revolutionary organizations to guide it all through political unity. Our power grows dialectically in relation to the strength of our organizations and the better organized workers are around the world, the less options international capital has to run and hide to exploit us at higher levels.
There’s no time like today to start and if you agree with anything here, feel free to reach out, it all begins with a conversation!
Long Live the Worker’s Struggle!