NOTE: In the wake of Tropical Storm Isaac, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp residents that partner with Pax Christi Port-au-Prince are taking shelter at the Pax Christi SAKALA community center in Cite Soleil. Furthermore, many homes have collapsed due to the wind in Cite Soleil leaving many families and individuals seeking shelter. Amy Watts and Manuel Padilla, the co-coordinators of the Pax Christi USA-Pax Christi Port-au-Prince collaboration, left for Cite Soleil today to help with support and relief assistance over the next 3 weeks. During their time in Haiti, we’ll be posting several recent stories on the ongoing situation in Haiti.
By Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review
The Nation has a scoop—or had, actually—from Wikileaks cables showing that the Obama administration pressured Haiti not to raise its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour, or five bucks a day.
The magazine posted the story the other day and has now pulled it, saying it will repost it next Wednesday “To accord with the publishing schedule of Haiti Liberté,” its partner on the piece.
But you can’t stuff the news genie back in the bottle. They already put it in my browser and many others, so I’ll summarize what it said (and I’ll link to it once The Nation republishes it).
Two years ago, Haiti unanimously passed a law sharply raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. That doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t), but it was two and a half times the then-minimum of 24 cents an hour.
This infuriated contractors for (UPDATE: I originally wrote that the companies themselves did this here, but The Nation wrote that it was contractors for the companies, so I’ve added “contractors for” here) American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies (the U.S. minimum wage, which itself is very low, works out to $58 a day)…