Haiti has raised the daily minimum wage for its nearly 29,000 garment workers by 12.5% as of May 1, 2014.
According to the AP, Haitian President Michel Martelly along with the country’s prime minister and a labor conditions Cabinet member, agreed to increase wages to 225 Haitian gourdes ($5.12) per eight-hour workday. This falls short of the 500 gourdes ($11.38) workers had been seeking.
The minimum wage was last increased in 2009 when the daily rate went from about $1.50 to around $4.50 over a span of three years.
Haiti also established a separate minimum wage for garment workers that would allow them to earn up to $6.81 in a day if they meet certain production quotas, According to AP, but labor groups have argued that workers won’t realize the higher wages as the quotas are too high to meet in one work day.
Workers’ rights advocates and industry insiders have said that Haitian workers receive considerably less pay than they should, and some don’t even earn the set minimum wage. The US-based Worker Rights Consortium has said Haitian workers, on average, receive 32 percent less pay than they are entitled to.
Haiti’s government-convened Supreme Council on Wages had approved the wage hike recommendation last November, and workers who felt slighted by the insufficient increase took to the streets of Port-au-Prince in protest.
But despite protests, the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH) and apparel industry leaders dismissed the 500 gourdes raise request last year citing a need to monitor the wage rate to maintain the country’s competitiveness with low-cost nations like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam.