By Regroupement des Haïtiens de Montréal contre l’Occupation d’Haïti (REHMONCO), Rezo Nodwes, May 16, 2023
For the past several months Haitian workers have been denouncing the situation of abject misery the ruling classes and the state impose of them. Gang violence, characterizeds their daily lives: A long ,violent process of plunder during which they barely manage to reproduce their labor force. Workers continue to struggle to demand from public and private sector employers better working conditions despite the atmosphere of terror. Workers are demanding the adjustment of their wages in proportion to the level of inflation. In addition to demanding the restoration of security in the different districts of the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and secondary cities of the country.
This social movement has been developing through various public health personnel strike actions over the past several months. Decades of budget cuts, public hospitals have been greatly diminished in the services they can offer. Hospitals are visibly dilapidated and lack equipment. In addition, the salaries of doctors and other hospital staff are more than halved under the combined effect of inflation and the programmed devaluation of the local currency. The public authorities are in no hurry to start negotiations to raise their salaries, despite the workers urgent demands. Nor do they provide public hospitals with the inputs and materials necessary to function. The situation remains stagnant while the poor - the vast majority of the population, do not have the means to obtain care in the private sector. They are deprived of medical assistance in the context of an epidemic of cholera and insecurity.
The same scenario is developing in several other areas of the public service, despite the combativeness of the unions. In the education sector the unions are in their third week of general strike, while the neo-Duvalierist minister Nesmy Manigat uses beaurocratic procedure to cause delays. This is aimed at breaking the current mobilization of teachers. The government has been slow to begin negotiations to meet the demands of teachers' unions, while children in public schools are deprived of lessons as official exams approach. This criminal attitude is an extension of the obscurant tradition of the Haitian bourgeois state, particularly in the case of Duvalierist and neo-Duvalierist governments. This consist in depriving the working classes of basic services and infrastructure.
The week of May 8, 2023 was marked by a strong mobilization of workers in the industrial sector. After presenting their demands in several press conferences the Batay Ouvrye (B.O) union and its allies held massive demonstrations in the metropolitan area to demand better working conditions and the adjustment of their salary in line with inflation. They are demanding a minimum wage of 2,500 gourdes for workers in the subcontracting sector while supporting the demands of public service unions.
The mobilization began at the entrance to the building of the Industrial Parks Company (SONAPI). Several thousand workers with banners and placards gathered early in the morning. Their workspace symbolically transformed into a place of protest. Buttressed by popular support these workers marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince, putting forward their demands. Through eloquent and incisive slogans they denounce the looting of their labor force by multinational firms and local bourgeois in a context of union repression. They accuse the government of theft. The insurance policy salary deductions do not pay for any medical coverage.
By launching this massive labor union protest movement, they have foiled the de facto government's strategy of capitalizing on the atmosphere of terror created by criminal gangs. Attempting to silence the working classes despite economic and political repression. This awakening caught those in power by surprise to such an extent that they had to mobilize the police forces to prevent the demonstrators from going to the official residence of the de facto neo-Duvalierist Prime Minister Ariel Henry. On several occasions, the police, unable to neutralize the gangs who have orchestrated more than twenty massacres in several regions of the country, have proved effective in repressing the workers. Using truncheons, lethal bullets, and tear gas at point-blank range, police injured and arbitrarily arrested several protesters.
REHMONCO denounces and condemns the bloody repression by police against demonstrators in solidarity with the struggle of Haitian workers. It demands the unconditional release of arrested workers. Once again, the neo-Duvalierist government of Ariel Henry has sided with the Haitian bourgeoisie and the multinational corporations. Those who exploit the workers in the sweatshops of the industrial park in Port-au-Prince, and in the other cities of country.
REHMONCO call for solidarity to the working classes of Canada, to the trade union platforms of South America, and the Caribbean, to the struggle of Haitian workers.
Renel Exentus &
Translated by CHIP editors
Posted May 27, 2023