BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Haitian Garment Workers Protest to Demand Higher Wages

Inside Industrial Revolution II's garment factory in Haiti | Source: Industrial Revolution II
Workers in a Haitian garment factory. (Industrial Revolution II)

Thousands of Haitian garment workers protested in Port-au-Prince on Thursday to demand higher wages following weeks of similar demonstrations over pay and working conditions at firms that export to US clothing retailers.

For decades, Haiti has promoted itself as a centre for clothing manufacturing thanks to low wages and proximity to US markets, but has faced consistent complaints that wages are too low to cover the cost of basic goods in the Caribbean nation.

Workers are seeking a raise that would take their daily wage to 1,500 gourdes ($15), from the current wage of 500 gourdes, union leader Dominique St Eloi said in a telephone interview.

“With 500 gourdes per day, without any government subsidies, we cannot meet our needs while the price of basic goods, transport costs have increased,” said St Eloi, coordinator for the National Union of Haitian Workers.

St Eloi said that if factory managers did not respond, they would ask Haiti’s government to raise the minimum wage.

Protesters first congregated around the Sonapi industrial park, and then later gathered along a nearby road after police dispersed them with tear gas.

The Association of Industries of Haiti, the country’s main manufacturing trade group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the office of Prime Minister Ariel Henry said Henry was working on the issue with the High Council of Salaries, which recommends changes to the minimum wage, and that he had met on Tuesday with industry leaders about the issue.

A group of US members of Congress in November said they were asking the heads of 62 American companies that import garments from Haiti for information on “protections in place for workers employed by their companies and suppliers.”

Similar protests have been taking place in recent weeks at Haitian factories, which have for years seen waves of protests over low salaries.

In response to wage hike demands in 2017, Haiti’s government and manufacturing leaders said salary increases would make them less competitive and lead companies to move operations to the neighbouring Dominican Republic or Central America.

By Ralph Tedy Erol and Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince, additional reporting and writing by Brian Ellsworth; editing by Diane Craft

Learn more:

Haiti Earthquake Delivers Another Blow to Budding Manufacturing Hub

According to the International Finance Corporation, the apparel industry is Haiti’s largest formal employer, providing jobs for over 55,000 Haitians and supporting more than 450,000 people.

In This Article

© 2022 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Global Markets
A guide to unlocking opportunity in emerging and frontier fashion markets.

South Korea is one of the world’s leading exporters of beauty products but the narrow definition of ‘K-beauty’ in international markets means many exciting brands in Seoul have yet to go global.

The apparel and footwear market in Colombia rebounded faster than in Brazil or Mexico, but Chile and Peru may not recover to pre-pandemic sales levels for years. Where are the region’s next growth opportunities?

Brands are partnering with Lagos-based talent to help them navigate the complexities of the country’s billion-dollar fashion market and create a ripple effect across the African continent.

view more

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
The Complete Guide to Managing Markdowns
© 2023 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Complete Guide to Managing Markdowns