Haiti - Trade Union Roadmap gets off the ground.
On 16 May 2011, one day after Michel Martelly took office as new President of Haiti, trade unions held a workshop on social protection in Haiti with a view to ensuring the observance of minimum standards in the on-going reconstruction programmes.
The workshop supported by the ILO, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Public Services International (PSI) and the Trade Union Confederation for the Americas (TUCA) focused on ways and means of strengthening enforcement mechanisms under the current legislation. Trade union delegates identified as many as ten different public bodies currently involved in the administration of the social security system in Haiti, criticised the lack of coordination and dialogue among them and pointed to serious operational shortcomings. They complained that the National Pensions Office (NPA) did not even have a computerised database and that trade union officials in the NPA had been dismissed after they had exposed the failings and insisted that the Labour Code be revised paving the way for an efficient social protection system financed through public funds to be put in place. Moreover, they underlined the need for the inclusion of a genuine gender dimension, enabling the majority of Haitian women dependent on precarious work in the informal economy to be covered so that their rights and entitlements could be protected in the revised legislation. Norma Powell, President of the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH), emphasised that the smooth functioning of the social protection system was a priority for Haitian employers as well.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti last year, the TUC, through its development arm - TUC Aid - launched an appeal for funds in response to an ITUC request and raised some £120,000. An initial grant of £30,000 out of the Appeal proceeds made it possible for emergency humanitarian operations to be carried out in collaboration with Haitian trade unions and their sister unions in the Dominican Republic. TUC Aid took part in the Trade Union Summit held on 8-9 April 2010 in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and supported the trade union roadmap developed by the Haitian unions with a view to ensuring that the Haitian trade union movement played a key role in the reconstruction and development of the country and that workers' rights were observed in the process.
The Roadmap emphasizes the need for the decent work agenda to be at the heart of the reconstruction and development of Haiti while focusing on the efficient delivery of quality public services, notably, health, education, housing and water, the rights of women and youth and on trade union participation in all institutions and structures related to the national reconstruction effort. The Roadmap has three key strands:
- development of a national employment policy based on decent work aiming at fulfilment of its four strategic objectives;
- respect for decent work in the reconstruction phase including the establishment of a decent work observatory and the adoption of special measures for the creation of jobs for women; and
- free, compulsory, good quality public education and training for all.
- The Project Coordinator, based in Port au Prince, has been working on the implementation of the Roadmap in collaboration with the Haitian trade union movement and TUCA. The progress made so far includes;
The translation of the document into Creole and circulation of 11,000 copies.
The setting up of a trade union brigade to support work on the cholera outbreak.
Training of over 300 trade union activists in basic trade unionism.
The protection and promotion of workers' rights in FTZs will also be given consideration within the Decent Work agenda programmes. TUC Aid is in discussion with TUCA on further financial support for the implementation of the TU Roadmap.
Issued: 4 July, 2011