In 2021, many unions in Haiti could not operate pending the long-awaited issuance of their registration certificate, including the two CODEVI workers' unions (SYNTRAC and USOCO); the Syndicat des Travailleurs-euses du Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (STMSPP) and the Syndicat des Employés de l'Institut Haïtien de Statistiques et d'Informatique (SEIHSI); the Syndicat des Ouvriers MAS-AKANSYÈL (SO-MA-AKAN); the Syndicat National des Employés de la DGI (SYNATE-DGI); the Syndicat des Employés du Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Ressources Naturelles et du Développement Rural (SEMARNDR); and the Syndicat du Personnel de la Primature (SYPP).
Right to civil liberties
In Haiti, teachers answered the call of several unions in the education sector and went on a general strike in September 2020 to demand better pay conditions. In the country, teachers receive less than US$200 per month while in three years their purchasing power decreased from more than 40 per cent due to the loss of value of the gourde, the national currency.
Following the general strike, several trade union leaders were subjected to retaliatory measures, including Magalie Georges, secretary general of the National Confederations of Educators of Haiti (CNEH); Georges Wilbert Franck, secretary general of the National Union of Normaliens and Educators of Haiti (UNNOEH); and four leaders of the Union of Employees of the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP). According to national unions in Haiti, teachers active in the trade union movement are being hunted by the police and some are now hiding for fear of being arrested.
Right to trade union activities
In Haiti, registration has always been an arduous process for trade unions. The Labour Directorate illegally and arbitrarily demands that the statutes of trade unions be amended before they are registered. Furthermore, the Labour Directorate informs the employer, prior to registration, of the filing of an application, asking the company to indicate whether the workers listed are part of the company. This leaves the employers ample time and opportunity to dismiss these workers before the establishment of the union. This anti-union policy has prevented many independent unions from obtaining their registration.
Dismissals for participating in strike action
Haiti’s garment workers have been struggling to survive in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which further deepened the economic and social crisis in the country. Roughly a third of the 57,000 workers in the country’s garment industry were suspended or terminated and had yet to receive any compensation from the government in spite of earlier promises. The rest are working reduced hours in unsafe factories that lack even the most basic precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In August 2020, union leaders of GOSTTRA, the garment union, attempted to defend their members’ interests. At Premium Apparel, 43 union leaders and members were dismissed after protesting against the company’s decision to send them home.