PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti’s government on Monday hiked the minimum wage by as much as 54% following weeks of demonstrations by garment workers who say their wages are not enough to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The office of Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Twitter posted a sliding scale of wage hikes that vary by economic activity, with the greatest increase going to workers in areas such as the electricity and telecommunications industries.
Employees in the clothing manufacturing sector, which export finished products to U.S. retailers, received a 37% increase. That takes their wages to just under $7.50 per day, compared with the $15 per day that union leaders had demanded.
For decades, Haiti has promoted itself as a center for clothing manufacturing thanks to low wages and proximity to U.S. markets.
Workers over the years have complained that pay is too low to cover basic goods, which are often more expensive than in other countries due to weak infrastructure and gang violence.
A group of U.S. 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.”
Haitian officials have in the past said that increasing wages by too much would leave the garment industries at risk of losing competitiveness with respect to other countries such as the neighboring Dominican Republic.
(Reporting by Gessika Thomas, writing by Brian Ellsworth; editing by Grant McCool)