Better Work Haiti: 22nd Biannual Compliance Synthesis Report

6 Aug 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the garment industry globally, and Haiti has not been an exception. The number of workers employed declined from over 57,000 to 51,309 by April 2021. The garment export to the US market decreased by 11.8 percent in value and 8.2 percent in volume for the period of May 2020 April 2021 compared with the same period in the previous year. The garment sector has been recovering since the factories received the government authorization to operate at full capacity in July 2020. According to the WHO dashboard, there were 13,056 reported cases of COVID-19 in Haiti and approximately 254 deaths as of April 30, 2021. On July 14, Haiti received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines — 500,000 doses – of COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccination scheme in mid-June.

Better Work key activities and response to COVID-19 to supporting workers, employers, and government partners in the garment sector included among others:

  • COVID-19 prevention: relevant seminars and training, including virtual seminars on labor law, socially responsible transitioning, and OSH-related topics. In addition, specialized training for doctors and nurses in the factories for addressing COVID-19 at the workplace was conducted in collaboration with ILO/AIDS project. This initiative aimed to train medical staff to learned detection methods, infection prevention and control (IPC) applied to the novel coronavirus, clinical management of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and occupational health and safety in the context of COVID-19.
  • OSH issues: Given high non-compliance on OSH, with a specific focus on emergency preparedness, the COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness, Better Work Haiti continued to work on this topic during the pandemic, often linking the COVID-19 specific challenges and pre-existing issues.
  • Gender: As women, particularly pregnant women, faced additional challenges during the pandemic, Better Wok Haiti continued its collaboration with ILO/AIDS, UNICEF, and PROFAMIL (Association pour la Promotion de la Famille Haïtienne) to improve access to health services. PROFAMIL, as the implementing partner, provided a series of awareness-raising sessions to factory workers, including pregnant women, on HIV and COVID-19 prevention.
  • Partnership: in collaboration with ACTEMP, worked with the Association of Haitian Industries (ADHI), representing the employers in the garment sector in developing the association’s national action plan and their engagement plan to promote compliance with standards and COVID-19 preventive actions.

Beyond firm-level impact, the COVID-19 economic impact survey conducted by Better Work Haiti shed light on the impact on workers and their families. From November 12 to December 2020, 3,300 workers were surveyed across 38 factories enrolled in Better Work Haiti Program. It brought insights into three main themes: take-home pay, support network, and safety and well-being. While the industry continues to provide critical jobs to tens of thousands of workers in Haiti, the current survey suggests workers face challenges to meeting basic needs during the pandemic even as incomes for the sampled workers have largely recovered from reductions in 2020.

As Haiti geared up for several major political milestones in 2021, including holding a proposed constitutional referendum and legislative, municipal, local and presidential elections, political and security instability had further deepened in recent months. In addition to restrictions by COVID-19, that has affected the in-person factory services in the field.

This report presents the results of assessments, advisory, and training services provided to the 28 participating factories, which were assessed at least twice before May 2020. Due to the Better Work staff’s inability to conduct an in-person assessment, the factories’ improvement plans were verified virtually through requests for documentation during advisory services and conversations with bi-partite committee members, including workers and management.

The highest non-compliance rates in the industry were in occupational safety and health (OSH). Persistent non-compliance issues in compensation (social security) and OSH (Chemicals management, emergency preparedness, and worker protections) continue to concern the sector. This is where Better Work’s role as convenor of industry stakeholders is essential. It allows the program to discuss challenges that affect many companies in the industry.

Download the full report to read more.


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