Haitian Police dispersed with tear gas, textile workers demanding wage increase

Posted by AlterPresse on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 Under: Economy

Image Credit: Le Nouvelliste

Working men and women will remain mobilized until their demands are met, despite a call by the government to resume operations at the National Park of Industrial Parks (SONAPI).

The protests that paralyzed the activities at Sonapi since Friday May 19th continued, Monday 22 of May 2017, observes AlterPresse.

After the protest on Friday May 19 in Port-au-Prince, several thousands of workers, early this morning, still gained the streets of the capital, demanding a daily wage of 800 Gourdes ($13) instead of the 300 Gourdes ($5) current .

The demonstration was dispersed by agents of the National Police of Haiti (PNH) with blows of tear gas.

The workers are very unhappy and intend to maintain their mobilization to the end.

Private security agents and those of the PNH were stationed at the industrial park, still closed, this Monday, May 22. Some workers were also noticed in the neighborhood.

Emergency meeting between government and business

Several representatives of the employers' sector, the PNH and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor took part in an emergency meeting on Monday May 22 in order to find a solution to this tense situation which has continued for more than 72 hours.

The government is calling on the workers to return to work at SONAPI on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, following their stoppages observed since Friday, May 19, 2017.

The spokesman of the Union of Textile Industry (PLASIT), Telemachus Peter, said not to take this meeting seriously.

Government Announcements

At the end of the meeting, the Minister of Social Affairs and of Work, Roosevelt Bellevue, announced a set of provisions to provide a medium-term and long-term solution to this crisis.

Among these measures, it provides food and medical assistance for the workers.

Talks will also be initiated with the National Office for Old-Age Insurance (ONA) so that workers who have contributed to the ONA can receive loans.

More than 300 buses will be available to facilitate the transport of workers, he says.

Only the Superior Council of Wages (CSS) is entitled to adjust the salary. This entity, which will be functional as of this week, has a deadline until June 1, 2017 to submit a report on the current situation, says Bellevue, who wants a return to normal.

It ensures that provisions are made at the level of the Haitian National Police to guarantee the safety of the places and the workers.

While claiming to be open to dialogue, Bellevue says he does not intend to tolerate any "disorder" that risks affecting the few jobs available in the sector.

" The same thing "

After having severely criticized the workers' movement in a statement, the president of the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH), Georges Sassine, for his part, maintained that the employers and the workers demand "the same thing "To Sonapi: the improvement of living conditions.

He said he was simply disagreeing with the way the workers began the mobilization that created panic within the factories.

This situation has forced officials to close SONAPI as a precautionary measure, he said.

Sassine says he is not able to estimate the losses recorded during these 3 days of work stoppage.

"Righteous Claims"

"Our demands are right," says a worker, interviewed by AlterPresse at SONAPI.

She takes advantage to denounce the behavior of the Pnh which has, she says, beat and arrested several of them.

"We receive 300 gourdes a day, while prices of petroleum products have increased. If we needed 100 gourdes for transportation, now we need double, "she complains.

Since Monday, May 15, 2017, the price of gasoline is set at 224.00 gourdes (previously 189.00 gourdes), that of diesel at 179.00 gourdes (formerly 149.00 gourdes) and that of kerosene at 173.00 gourdes (previously 148.00 gourdes)

In : Economy