Celebrities and Foreign Officials Tout Caracol, While Report Finds 95% of Factories Fail to Pay Minimum Wage
Hillary and Bill Clinton arrived in Haiti today with a delegation of foreign investors and celebrities to showcase the Caracol industrial park, “the centerpiece of the U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake,” reports Trenton Daniel for the AP. Government officials and international partners have touted the park’s potential to create thousands of jobs, but there have been a host of criticisms on social, environmental and labor issues. Speaking with the AP, sociologist Alex Dupuy notes:
"This is not a strategy that is meant to provide Haiti with any measure of sustainable development ... The only reason those industries come to Haiti is because the country has the lowest wages in the region," Dupuy said.
Reports from the ground indicate that the factory is not complying with the minimum wage law, however. Etant Dupain, writing on the Let Haiti Live website, notes:
Before the official inauguration, several thousand employees have been working in the Caracol park for the last three months at a wage of 150 gourdes ($3.75 US) a day. Since October 1st, the new minimum wage law has gone into effect, with the government setting the minimum at 300 gourdes a day. Despite this, the managers of the factory operating at Caracol aren't respecting the new official minimum wage.
The new minimum wage would be 200 gourdes, with piece rate employees earning 300. Caracol would be far from the only factory in Haiti not adequately compensating their employees. The most recent Better Work Haiti report, released last week, found that 21 of 22 factories covered in their analysis (Caracol is not covered yet) were non-compliant with minimum wage laws. This refers to the old minimum wage. Better Work is a joint program of the International Labor Organization, International Finance Corporation and the U.S. Department of Labor. Of course, whether employees are earning $3 or $5 a day, it is still far below what the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center determined to be a “living wage” for workers in the garment industry.