Textile workers returned to the streets today to demand a wage of 1,500 gourdes a day (less than 15 dollars), despite police repression in recent days of protest.
“One thousand 500 gourdes, one thousand 500 gourdes,” chanted the protesters on Industry boulevard and Jean Gilles Street, while recalling that since 2019 wages have not increased despite the fact that commodity prices soared in recent years, and especially after the increase in the cost of fuel last December.
This is the fourth day of protest by employees of the National Society of Industrial Parks, who threaten to extend the mobilisations and paralyse the factories until their demands are heard.
The previous demonstrations were repressed by the police, who used tear gas and gunshots in the air to frustrate the long mobilisation.
Some trade unionists denounced that the forces of law and order used live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, who also set up barricades and blocked arteries such as the route to Toussaint Louverture airport.
The government promised to publish the wage adjustment decree this week, and media reports indicate that wages could be set at 1,000 gourdes a day (just under $10).
Union leaders announced that they will not accept less than 1,500, while denouncing the high cost of living, and pointing out that the factories they work for produce duty-free garments for brands such as Gap, Old Navy, H&M, JC Penney and Zara, which are then sold by retailers in the US and Canada.
The protests are taking place in the midst of a political, economic and security crisis in the country, with around 45 per cent of citizens living on the poverty line.
These figures soared in the wake of the 14 August earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and left nearly a million in need of humanitarian assistance.