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From dckomatlcom.net@mindspring.com Thu Oct 26 13:56:52 2000
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 23:01:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: David Christian <dckomatlcom.net@mindspring.com>
Organization: iww.org
Article: 107784
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: m74"!Lmn!!de9"!UfN"!

Urgent appeal on behalf of the Cointreau workers' union in Haiti

From the Haiti Support Group, 25 October 2000

Check out the Cointreau web site, and read how the subtle harmony of bitter and sweet oranges makes every sip of Cointreau an extraordinary, multi-sensory taste journey. Read how they grow bitter oranges in the Caribbean, how the peel is separated from the pulp by hand, dried in the sun, and then shipped to the Cointreau distillery in Angers, France. Once distilled, the liquid is blended with water and alcohol using a secret recipe - unchanged for almost 150 years.

What the web site won't tell you is that the workers in Haiti who so carefully separate the peel from the pulp must endure pay and conditions that are also unchanged in almost 150 years.

At the Cointreau plant in the north of Haiti, men and women labour all day to make the minimum wage of 36 gourdes - a pitiful amount that represents just $1.25! The factory is in a squalid condition - toilets and showers are disgusting. Working without gloves or protective clothing, the workers are soaked in the orange spray and inhale the citric acid vapor - fingernails are corroded away, and lung complications are common.

In the financial year 1999-2000, the parent company, Rémy Cointreau recorded a net operating profit of 55 million Euros (US$61 million), a 163% increase compared with the previous year. The Company employs around 3,700 people worldwide. Each year, some 13 million bottles of Cointreau are sold. The chairperson of Rémy Cointreau, Dominique Hériard Dubreuil, is ranked 5th in the Fortune list of the 50 most powerful women in business in the world.

At the Cointreau plant in Haiti, the workers have formed a union to press for basic rights, such as respect for the law in relation to the Labour Code, negotiations regarding a wage increase, and recognition of the union and the principle of collective bargaining. But Cointreau's Haitian managers are refusing to even enter negotiations with the union.

Following the success of the 1999-2000 solidarity action on behalf of workers at the Grand Marnier plantation near Cap-Haitien in which Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle) enlisted the support of the British solidarity organisation, the Haiti Support Group, and the French Reseau-Solidarité (Solidarity Network), a similar mobilisation is now planned.

Please respond to the Haitian Union of Cointreau Workers' appeal for help by writing to Dominique Hériard Dubreuil, chairperson of Rémy Cointreau.

Please note that the Cointreau workers' Union has not raised the issue of a threatened consumer boycott of Rémy Cointreau products. Therefore, please do not mention this in your letter. Just ask Rémy Cointreau to instruct its managers to recognise the Union's right to begin negotiations, and express your hope that meaningful negotiations regarding the Unions' demands will start immediately.

Write to:
Dominique Hériard Dubreuil
Rémy Cointreau
152, avenue des Champs-élysées,
75008 Paris