Strengthening Worker Organizations
The project’s overall goal is to improve the livelihoods of workers with decent work opportunities and labor rights protection in Haiti’s textile and apparel sector. The project will work to build the capacity of textile sector unions to organize workers and defend worker rights, working towards the eventual creation of a functional industrial relations system.
Project Objectives: The project aims to achieve this goal by:
- Strengthening the capacity of unions in the apparel and textile sector to organize and democratically represent apparel and textile workers.
- Strengthening the capacity of unions and related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to advocate for improved working conditions and worker rights, including freedom of association, legally mandated wages and hours, and the elimination of sexual harassment.
The textile and apparel sector is the largest private employer in Haiti’s formal economy, currently employing just over 30,000 people (as of July 2013). Even though the industry has declined from a peak of 100 factories in 1986 to 23 factories in 2012, it remains central to Haiti’s economy and job creation. In addition, orders have been increasing, and employment is expected to grow, particularly with the opening of the Caracol Industrial Park. Investment in the textile and apparel sector has also increased as a result of the Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II), a trade preference program that includes country-level labor eligibility requirements that are similar to those found in most U.S. trade agreements but also includes unique producer-level eligibility requirements. HOPE II obligates the U.S. to assist the Government of Haiti promote consultations and cooperation between the government, employers, and workers and to assist worker representatives “more fully and effectively” advocate on the behalf of their members. Through this project, the Department of Labor seeks to fulfill requests made by the Government of Haiti and Haitian textile and apparel producers to build the capacity of workers and worker organizations to engage constructively with employers and the government, and contribute to Haiti’s obligations to meet HOPE II eligibility requirements.