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"CHEAP LABOR"!

A deadly struggle is being fought out today in Haiti around the question of workers' wages.

The latter, of course, need to be considered under the angle of their nominal worth, as well as their real value. In addition, however, they must also be understood from a proportional perspective, that is as expressions of a definite relationship. While the Haitian workers' real wages are decreasing, bosses' benefits (surplus value) are increasing, that which reinforces that classes' social power and diminishes that of the wage laborers' as well as other types of workers. This strengthening is clearly seen during labor stuggles, negociations and throughout every realtionship engaged between the two classes. With these increased means, the bosses buy State support more readly. This we witnessed clearly, for example, during the court case which recently opposed Hotel Beck's abusively fired workers to this establishment's direction. Not only was the anti-union firing not condemned but it was the workers themselves, constituted as plaintiff, who were incriminated and condemned to pay the procedures! Buying the State, paying lacquees, corrupting determined workers, and many many more schemes... these are the results, amongst other mecanisms of exploitation, of the lowering of our real salaries.

The bourgeoisie with all its associates, amongst them the "macoutes" (duvalierists), "grands mangeurs" (big-eater) state officials and foreign capitalists, are assembled as real vampires determined to finish once and for all with the Haitian people. The greater our misery, the harsher our famine, our tuberculous state, the stronger they are to dominate us and exploit us. Logically, the leitmotiv sung today is Haiti's "comparative advantage", i.e. its "inexpensive work force", which is to say that for this bourgeoisie, as for the imperialists invited to make benefits in Haiti, for them all, the advantage resides in our famine salaries, in that very special commodity named haitian work force, which has attained the point of being supremely cheap, so far its price has been driven down.

A splendid advantage!...

In these times of "globalisation" so hailed by the international bourgeoisie, the haitian minimum wage is one of the lowest of the planet.

The US embassy, snooping yet here, naturally has tried to allege that wage laborers in north american industries established in Haiti were paid "well" (relatively speaking, in comparison to other workers), which is absolutely false. It is demonstrated that in this inflation-ridden economy, with 22 cents / hour the Haitian worker can neither eat, clothe or heal him or her ailments.

The September 1991 Coup d'Etat was in part motivated by this question of salary; it took place the day before a major hike of the legal minimum salary from 21 to 50 cents. The Bush government had already publicly opposed itself to this measure. Following the Coup d'Etat, American companies mobilized their lobbies at the White House to be able to continue their operations during the entire embargo period: 87 industries obtained this excemption. Thus, to the opposite of the rest of the countries of the world, the United States was developing its trade with Haiti, passing from US$ 107 million in 1992 to US$ 154 million in 1993, a 44% raise - of which 75% entered the United States absolutely tax-free. (See the National Labor Committee's report, 1997, reduced Web version: "Jobs Threatened: Urgent Action Alert in Solidarity with Haitian & US Workers").

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