Highlights of Better Work Haiti’s year and plans for 2017
12 February 2017.
Port au Prince – Better Work met with factory managers and, separately, with union representatives on February 10 to discuss major achievements of the Better Work programme in 2016 and to offer an outlook on planned activities for 2017. The meetings allowed participants to voice their expectations towards Better Work and opportunities for collaboration throughout the New Year.
Apart from core services (annual assessment, continuous advisory services, and training) which Better Work delivers to all exporting factories in Haiti in the framework of the US HOPE Legislation, the programme also runs additional activities with and for the stakeholders. For example, in 2016 BWH worked together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor on a Labor Law Guide.The guide will be available as a handbook and a smartphone application in five languages (Kreyol, English, French, Spanish, and Korean).
As well, Better Work collaborated closely with a taskforce of labour inspectors from the Ministry in order to assist in capacity building through joint factory visits. Better Work also launched a number of new training modules last year such as an Industrial Relations training, a module on effective grievance mechanisms and one on workplace cooperation and communication. The popular three-day long communication skills training for supervisors is now also available in Spanish for the relatively large number of Hispanic supervisors in Haitian factories.
Another area of the Better Work programme focused on the collaboration with international buyers sourcing in Haiti. During the annual multi-stakeholders’ forum, close to 200 participants had an opportunity to network, exchange and discuss issues that concern the Haitian garment industry. The focus of the 2016 forum was on persistent non-compliance issues (PNCs) which will remain a central theme on Better Work’s 2017 agenda (see article under partnerships).
In addition to collaboration with the tripartite constituents (factory management/ADIH, workers and unions, Government of Haiti), Better Work has established close collaborations with a number of other stakeholders in the sector which will continue in the new year, for example with the Office of the Labor Ombudsman (BMST) for the garment sector, the Social Dialogue Table, the social security institutions ONA and OFATMA and with Share Hope.
Stakeholder meeting with unions’ representativesIn 2017, the first Better Work Haiti office in the country’s north will be opened. As factories are growing in the north (40% of the workers in the sector are employed in three companies in the northeast), Better Work needs an operational base for the program’s activities on site.
Another highlight of the year will be a series of audio messages for factory workers that Better Work will publish in 2017. The messages will be available through factory speaker systems and will also be broadcast by radio stations. The objective is to educate the workforce of the sector about basic subjects of interest, such as social security services, salary calculations, HR topics, etc.
Also planned is the launch of a programme with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to increase factory productivity. Five factories will be able to participate in the one-year pilot project.
Factory managers, as well as union representatives, gave Better Work feedback on these plans for the coming year. The unions expressed their willingness to collaborate with BW in the bipartite committees at the factory level (PICCs) and managers were particularly positive about the planned audio messages as well as the productivity project. They also suggested an image campaign for the sector to improve the populations’ perception of the garment sector in Haiti.
Better Work Haiti is funded by the United States Department Of Labor (USDOL).