The fight for the minimum wage in Haiti is a movement based on the rejection of the country’s export-oriented extractivist development model. This model has robbed Haitians of their ancestral lands and transformed them into a surplus labor force for comprador capitalists. It has also been called the “Fight for 15.”
Levi Strauss’ position on minimum wage
When it comes to Haiti, one company is a hot topic: Levi Strauss. In a recent article in The Nation, the company defended its brand name by denying that it pushed to block increases in the minimum wage in Haiti. The article cited cables obtained through Wikileaks and Haiti Liberte as evidence that Levi Strauss pushed to keep the minimum wage low. Nevertheless, the company did not deny its role in helping the workers and lists a number of other initiatives aimed at improving the situation in Haiti. The company’s response cites the Planet Money article and lists a series of initiatives that have been taken in Haiti to improve the situation for those who need them.
One example of Levi Strauss’ opposition to a minimum wage increase in Haiti is the case of CODE, the company that manufactures clothing for the luxury brand. In Haiti, they pay their workers a paltry two to three gourdes per day. In contrast, the minimum wage for all other sectors of the economy, including construction, is at least $6.25. But as the Association of Haitian Industry points out, the United States has pressured the company to stay in Haiti. Despite this pressure, the law remains at a low level.
While putting pressure on the president, Levi Strauss’ decision to move their manufacturing to Haiti is also a powerful statement of moral courage and determination. After all, the United States has the most powerful corporate influence in the world. In the meantime, Levi Strauss’ Haitian employees are being exploited by American companies in the same way that their workers are in the US. While there’s no proof to support these companies’ actions, it’s clear that American clothing giants like Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Levi’s are putting huge pressure on the Haitian government.
Amid all this, there is a more sinister side to Levi Strauss’ position on minimum wage. He claims that the US government conspired to keep the poor Haitians poor by refusing to raise their wages, thereby preventing them from achieving economic prosperity. However, the reality is that the United States has not been able to attract industrial investment to Haiti. As of today, the country has only 50,000 textile jobs.
Levi Strauss’ protests
There is a new controversy brewing in Haiti over the labor practices of a large U.S. clothing company. After all, it is the Levi Strauss brand that has been accused of paying low wages to its workers in the country. A new article in The Nation claims that the brand’s contractors were pushing to block proposals to raise the minimum wage for garment workers in Haiti. The article also claims that a Wikileaks cable described attempts by some companies to keep the minimum wage low in Haiti. The company responded by listing its efforts to help Haitian workers in a statement, directing readers to an article in Planet Money that details the story.
Despite these allegations, the company’s stance on the issue is baffling. While Levi Strauss denies opposing an increase in the minimum wage in Haiti, his company is still committed to a two-tiered system of wages in Haiti. While he says he is committed to a “one minimum wage for Haitians,” he will only support the increase if workers earn at least 250 gourdes per day.
Despite the US-funded HOPE program, it is unclear if the increased wages will improve the conditions for workers in Haiti. In 2007, the U.S. Embassy worked closely with private sector contractors to keep wages low. The embassy’s actions were a factor in the government’s decision to backtrack on its own plans. The U.S. Embassy sought to block these actions by the Haitian government.
The original walkout in Haiti took place in the PIM (P.I.M.) district, which is the duty-free production center of multinational clothing companies such as Gap, Old Navy, Zara, and JCPenney. These multinationals rely on the exploitation of Haitian workers and are in the process of removing their labor standards. So, a few multinational companies are lining up to do business in Haiti.
While the US has no official position on the Haitian minimum wage law, the State Department does actively pressure President Aristide to veto the hike. And, it is not clear whether Clinton personally intervened in the matter, but the stance of the US is closely connected to the positions of US corporations in the country. However, it is clear that this stance is incompatible with the objectives of the Haitian revolution.
President Preval’s prevarication
The U.S. Embassy has pushed hard for President Preval to implement the minimum wage in Haiti. However, there are some concerns about the stability of the country. Nevertheless, the U.S. Embassy is still lamenting the increase and leaned into President Preval’s position. For starters, President Preval’s administration has backed the minimum wage hike based on a study by the Haitian Association of Industry (ADIH). The ADIH is the organization responsible for negotiating with the President and has met with him three times.
Haiti’s president is well aware of the economic challenges facing the country. His decision to sign the agreement with the Venezuelan oil alliance PetroCaribe makes sense, given Haiti’s poverty and budget. The country would save around $100 million annually by eliminating late payments. However, the United States blocked the deal for years, enlisting Chevron to block shipments to Haiti. This is a clear sign that the U.S. government cannot ignore the needs of the people of Haiti.
After the CEP re-evaluated the legal standing of the ballots, President Preval’s refusal to sanction the vote has ignited street demonstrations across Haiti. The protests began on the 3rd of June, and progressive students from State University in Port-au-Prince joined the demonstrations. They have called on President Preval to respect the people’s right to an adequate minimum wage.
The government’s stance on the minimum wage is tempered by the fact that HOPE II, which is a sweeping economic reform, is expected to benefit from a higher minimum wage. While President Preval’s government remains optimistic, pro-business groups worry that a minimum wage hike will jeopardize HOPE II and a 10-year tariff-free period.
In 2003, the Labor Code of Haiti stipulated that it would raise the minimum wage in line with inflation. Currently, the minimum wage is set at 70 gourdes a day – approximately $1.75 per day or 22 cents an hour. This increase has been long overdue in Haiti. The cost of living is out of control and the country needs to improve its economic condition and increase its standard of living.
Impact of minimum wage hike on Haiti’s economy
The minimum wage in Haiti is tied to the country’s export market. The international community has been pushing Haiti to be an export market for textiles and other products, so a hike in the minimum wage would undermine the country’s competitiveness. The minimum wage issue also touches on the larger issue of liberal economics, which is imposed on poor countries by the international community. For Haiti, it is unclear whether a minimum wage hike will help the country’s economy, but it is a microcosm of its overall poverty.
The President’s Office has made a strong effort to make sure that the law passes. He has talked to stakeholders and used the media to push the law through. The President agreed to set the minimum wage at $5 per day, which would be 62 cents an hour. The bill was widely criticized by factory owners, but Preval is still standing by it. The president has said that if an independent study shows that the minimum wage hike will be catastrophic, he would concede.
In the past few days, a minimum wage hike in Haiti has sparked a new wave of protests, bringing the number of people demonstrating to nearly 50,000. Currently, Haiti’s minimum wage is $5 an hour, and a few years ago, it was only one-third of that. The protesters are demanding a $15 minimum wage per eight-hour day. Some want transportation and food subsidies as well.
In 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti was closely working with factory owners, including Levi’s, Fruit of the Loom, and Fruit of the Loom. These companies are now placing tremendous pressure on Haiti’s government, claiming that an increase in the minimum wage would destroy their industry. However, this report is not yet clear. Only time will tell if it’s going to be successful or not.
In 2008, the US government supported the creation of Export Processing Zones in Haiti, which pushed peasants off their land, and made them completely dependent on imported rice. This resulted in an unprecedented admission of guilt from Clinton. By increasing the minimum wage, Haiti will be able to attract more foreign investment, but will it be enough to keep the country on its feet? The question is how much of this new investment will actually be spent on its economic recovery.