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Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 06:43:35 -0500
From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>

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>>> Item number 7386, dated 96/05/02 17:15:26 -- ALL
Date: Thu, 2 May 1996 17:15:26 CDT
Reply-To: haiticom@blythe.org
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:6 5/1/96

Workers get eight cents an hour

Haiti Progres, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 14, no. 6, 1-7 May 1996

(HAITI INFO) PORT-AU-PRINCE, Apr. 17 - At least one assembly factory has figured out a new way to underpay its already exploited workers who are supposed to receive 36 gourdes (about US$2.18) per day.

Felix Abraham of Seamfast Manufacturing, which sews for K-mart and J.C. Penny, has been paying some workers one-third minimum wage, about 10 gourdes for eight hours (64 U.S. cents/day or 8 cents/hour).

A person working in factories here... I don't need to tell you what the conditions are! What happened is, a poor worker finished two weeks of work and got 105 gourdes in her envelope! Moman Travaye radio show explained on Apr. 7.

When the worker, Rose-Marie Milhomme, protested, she was told: 'This is not a state factory, this is a private factory,' as if the state has no say over what happens in private factories, the show said. When she insisted, she was told she was an apprentice and actually owed 500 gourdes to pay for learning to use the machines.

The Labor Code does not allow you to demand money for apprenticeship, the program continued. And once again, Social Affairs does not know about this, nobody looks into this, no state instance is verifying if factories are paying minimum wage.

Aksyon Travaye bulletin, also reporting on the case, said Abraham treats workers worse than animals, worse than slaves.

When Haiti Info tried to talk to workers, mostly women, this week outside the factory, they were visibly afraid of even being in the vicinity of a reporter. Some only said they worked the kouraj (courage) or sa ou fe, se li ou we (what you do is what you get) system where you are paid by the piece but get less than 36 gourdes if you do not make the (high) quota. (That is also illegal.)

The factory itself is completely surrounded by walls and is impossible to approach, but there was a clear indication of the salary levels: outside, the vendors sell only the most basic meals, like bread and peanut butter (perhaps 2 gourdes), and workers eat crouching on the ground, rather than sitting on little benches and eating rice and beans or vegetables (for perhaps 7 to 10 gourdes) as they do in front of other factories.