Collective Bargaining Contract Signed at the Ouanaminthe CODEVI Free Trade Zone – Batay Ouvriye, 15 December 2005
Batay Ouvriye is pleased to inform the public in general, all those who have been following the situation at the Ouanaminthe Free Trade Zone, and particularly those involved in the workers’ struggle there, that, after several months of negotiations, a final agreement was signed during the afternoon of Tuesday, December 13th, between management at the Codevi Free Trade Zone (Grupo M) and the SOCOWA workers’ union, affiliated with the May First Batay Ouvriye Union Federation.
The base salary of 432 gourdes weekly (US$10.16 or US$1.45 daily) is to be adjusted to 900 gourdes (US$21.17 or US$3.03 daily) with, additionally, an agreement to raise salaries by 45% over a period of three years (20% first, then 15% and 10%), all this taking into account rates of inflation and currency devaluation as specifically stipulated in the national labor legislation’s Article 137.
Although the question of wages was the crux of the negotiations, many other issues relating to union recognition; labor rights; working conditions; health, hygiene and security; pregnancy and sexual harassment, were also settled. Batay Ouvriye will be releasing more information on this important success shortly. In the meantime, we salute once again the Codevi workers’ struggles, as well as all of those in solidarity who contributed to the resolution of this workplace conflict.
The Haiti Support Group adds:
The Haiti Support Group has made the struggle for workers’ rights at the Ouanaminthe Free Trade Zone a special focus of our work over the last two years. This great news about the collective bargaining agreement and the wage increases follows the victory earlier this year when over 150 workers sacked for belonging to the Socowa union were reinstated and the Socowa union won full recognition from the management.
We want to thank all of you who have responded to our calls for solidarity, whether this consisted of sending emails to the main contractor, Levi Strauss & Co., demonstrating outside the Levi’s store in Regent Street, London, or contributing to our Socowa solidarity fund. We want to send special thanks and recognition to the Battersea and Wandsworth trade union council for the important financial support it has provided to Socowa; to the No Sweat organisation for raising donations to support Batay Ouvriye; and to the LabourStart campaigning web site for the thousands of emails sent in response to Socowa’s appeals for international solidarity.
Extract from Haiti Briefing Number 52, June 2004
The Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Union Council (BWTUC) has decided to twin with the new workers’ union at the Codevi free trade zone at Ouanaminthe. At the dynamic south-west London trades council’s AGM on 27 March, Haiti Support Group representatives convinced it to help with the costs of a unionising drive among the workers employed at factories in the newly-opened FTZ.
This welcome news follows hot on the heels of the report that the first FTZ union, the Sendika Ouvriye Codevi Wanament (Sokowa), had registered with the authorities on 14 February. The Sokowa union is affiliated with the fourteen other labour unions and workers committees that had come together in 2001 as L’Intersyndicale Premier Mai-Batay Ouvriye (The May 1st – Workers’ Fight Union Federation).
The founding of the Sokowa union owed much to the work of organisers from the May 1st – Workers’ Fight Union Federation, located in the near-by city of Cap-Haitien. They travelled to Ouanaminthe to make contact with some of the workers at the FTZ who wanted to start a union. With help from the BWTUC, the Sokowa union will now establish an office in Ouanaminthe, employ an organiser, and continue the task of unionising a FTZ workforce which is expected to grow to number 20,000 in the years ahead.