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Haiti textile workers denounce violations of ILO conventions

9 August, 2017Workers employed in the free trade export zones in Haiti have denounced violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 by Interamerican Wovens and Sewing International SA

Workers’ organizations in Haiti, including GOSTTRA, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, have been taking action since May to demand their labour rights. However, employers have taken reprisals in response to worker denunciations of injustices and calls for decent work.

GOSTTRA says that Interamerican Wovens (IW) and Sewing International SA (SISA) are refusing to negotiate agreements that will improve pay and working conditions, even though they are well aware of the high cost of living.

The union also says that protests have led to brutal police repression, the confiscation of union members’ telephones, the abuse of pregnant women and the dismissal of many workers for taking part in trade union actions.

The unions decided to seek a meeting with President Jovenel Moïse on 20 July at the National Palace to try to identify the problems that are affecting the textile sector and seek solutions.

President Moïse said he was surprised to find that workers’ conditions in the free trade zones were unacceptable and promised to provide social welfare support to workers.

IndustriALL General Secretary, Valter Sanches, wrote to IW and SISA company directors Gilbert Durand and Alain Vilard, condemning the company’s union busting operations and grave violations of the right to freedom of association (C87) and collective bargaining (C98):

“We should remind you that Haiti, on ratifying ILO Conventions 87 and 98, undertook the commitment to respect and implement these conventions. Likewise, your company, on joining the Better Work programme, also undertook a commitment to respect all the fundamental ILO conventions,” he wrote:

“IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with the struggle of our Haitian colleagues and will support and assist their trade union organizations in all the legal actions taken at national and international level to defend their rights.”