Better Work Haiti is releasing the 24th Biannual Compliance Synthesis Report under HOPE II Legislation. This report provides transparent information about the state of working conditions and labor standards in the garment industry today. The report draws upon data from factories assessed from May 2021 to June 2022, bringing together quantitative compliance findings with qualitative evidence from day-to-day advisory and training work in factories.
The national political context has not seen any concrete progress. Economic experts mention the worsening of public services, the overall economic and business environment, households’ quality of life, and the country in general. However, the textile sector, among others, is showing remarkable resilience. According to the data published by the US Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), the Haitian textile industry exported USD 433,553 million worth of products to the United States for the first five months of 2022, as compared to USD 376,715 million from January 2021 to May 2021, representing an increase of 15.09 percent. In this reporting period, Better Work Haiti recorded 58,571 jobs in the sector, compared to 53,410 during the last reporting period. In February 2022, the government increased the daily minimum wage in the textile sector from 500 to 685 Gourdes (37%). Although workers welcome this increase, they still feel that it is not enough to cover their living needs, given the high rate of inflation resulting from COVID-19 and socio-economic and political unrest.
Amid the difficulties and concerns since the last reporting period, fuel shortage, inter-gang clashes, gang violence and armed attacks on the population have surged, despite the Haitian National Police (HNP) efforts to curb crimes. This crisis caused the displacement of people in several areas of Port-au-Prince preventing on-site activities, particularly in the metropolitan area.
However, on May 24 and 25 2022, stakeholders from the government of Haiti and the United States, global brands, manufacturers, worker unions, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) gathered for the first time in two years. During a two-day conference that took place at the CODEVI Industrial Park, they discussed the extreme challenges that have affected the Haitian garment industry’s health and workforce, namely the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the sector, socio-political instability, and labor strikes. In addition, they agreed on a roadmap for the future. Better Work Haiti along with its stakeholders created this unique opportunity to facilitate constructive dialogue, and allow constituents to exchange views on policies and actions needed to address that obstruct the progress and the sustainability of the Haitian garment sector, both in the short and long term.
As a result of the discussions, stakeholders signed a joint resolution that set the priorities for :
1) achieving a higher level of factory compliance to boost the sector’s competitiveness and attractiveness for investment;
2) creating more decent jobs across several industrial parks;
3) introducing a range of social services and engaging closely with partners for pandemic recovery and sustainable development.
This report presents non-compliance findings in 28 participating factories assessed at least twice by May 2022. Better Work Haiti conducted hybrid as well as in-person services during this period, with the support of inspectors from the Ministry of Labor. The factories’ improvement plans were verified either in person during factory visits or virtually through requests for documentation during advisory services and conversations with bipartite committee members, including workers and management.
The highest non-compliance rates in the industry were related to occupational safety and health (OSH) meaning that almost every factory had at least one violation under Emergency Preparedness and Chemicals and Hazardous substances (both at 96% non-compliance rates). Persistent non-compliance issues in compensation, particularly in relation to paid leave, remain a major concern for both worker representatives and employer representatives, as expressed during the 2022 labor roundtable conference. Most of these non-compliance points have to do with the payment of the lunch break, which according to the law is an integral part of the workday. However, workers and employers both have concerns about the application of this law. They fear that some advantages that were previously acquired may be lost if the law is applied as intended.
Please download the report for more information.