After several rounds of meeting with the relevant stakeholders, the Supreme Council for Wages (CSS) has fixed the minimum wage for Category C employees, which include those working in the apparel export sector, at 225 gourdes (about US$ 5.44) a day.
The new minimum wage fixed by the nine-member council will come into force from January 1, 2014, after it gets a nod from the Ministry of Social Affairs, and would replace the earlier minimum wage of 200 gourdes per day for the garment sector employees.
However, most of the nearly 30,000 people employed in the country’s garment manufacturing sector may not be get any benefit from the rise in the minimum wage, as they are paid by the piece.
The CSS said its minimum wage decision would not apply to the piece rate, for which the companies and the unions will negotiate in January. At present, people working on piece rate can earn around 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day, but most garment enterprises underpay by about one-third.
The Collective of Textile Factory Unions Federation (KOSIT) termed the CSS proposal as a “total lack of respect” and said it would continue to mobilize support for raising minimum wage to 500 gourdes.
The garment factory owners, represented by the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH) said low wages are necessary to keep Haiti competitive.
Nearly two-thirds of those who work in Haiti’s free trade zone apparel factories are women, who stitch clothing for several global brands.
For Haitian apparel workers, the wage rise last occurred in 2009, when the minimum wage was raised from 70 gourdes to 200 gourdes a day.