"Haitian Garment Workers Should Get $5 a Day"

02/23/2010 12:00am

Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, argues in the Huffington Post for raising the wage of garment workers in Haiti:

Americans want to help Haiti; Democrats control the U.S. Congress; the Haitian Parliament has passed legislation saying Haitian workers should be paid at least $5 a day; and specific legislation that provides preferential access to the U.S. market to garments from Haiti is already U.S. law. Therefore, the following policy reform ought to be a slam dunk: Haitian garment workers whose products receive preferential access to the U.S. market under the HOPE II Act ought to be paid at least $5 a day.

The AP reported over the weekend on plans to expand the garment industry,  seen as a key to the recovery. AP tells the story of Rebecca, barely able to feed herself and forced to sleep on the street. She will earn $3.09 for 8 hours of work in the factory, meanwhile the suit she helped make will sell for $550 in the US.

Naiman continues:

Suppose that it takes Rebeca a day to produce that suit, an assumption that the AP article seems to imply is plausible. Is it too much to ask that she get an extra $2 for making a $550 suit? If we could ask the customer in the U.S. who purchased the suit for $550 for a $2 donation so Rebeca could have something to eat, how many people would say no?

It is not just the workers though, who are aware of this problem:

AP says that even the factory owners concede that garment-industry wages are too low to feed, clothe and house workers and their families.

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