Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Respect Workers’ Rights When Rebuilding Haiti

By James Parks, AFL-CIO Now Blog

Photo credit: Cathy Feingold
Dominican union truck drivers carry supplies to Haitian workers in Port-au-Prince.

This week, trade unionists from around the world will meet in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to draft a road map for rebuilding Haiti. Unions have already made it clear the reconstruction and future development of Haiti must include social protections, creation of decent work and respect for workers’ rights.

In a statement to the U.N. Donor’s Conference last week, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) called for a major international aid mobilization to rebuild the country’s devastated infrastructure and economy. At the Donor’s Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the United States has pledged $1.15 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction.

ITUC is organizing the Santo Domingo meeting along with its regional organization for the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) and Global Union Federations PSI and EI.

ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder said:

Rebuilding and defining a new development model for Haiti is a huge task that will require sustained international support. Today, trade unions, particularly in Haiti, must be involved in it. In the past, the country was characterized by a huge informal economy, severe poverty and hazardous and poorly paid work for much of the workforce in the formal economy. There is now an opportunity to change that for the better, and we are calling on international institutions, donor governments and the Haitian government to provide decent economic opportunities for Haitians.

Following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, trade unions around the world mobilized support on an unprecedented scale. The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center acted quickly to send needed supplies and support to its Haitian partners through a union-to-union effort that provides short-term emergency aid and builds toward long-term reconstruction and strengthening of Haiti’s union movement.

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