Conflicts & War

Haitians demand hike in minimum wage

Port-au-Prince, Feb 10 (EFE).- For a second straight day, hundreds of Haitian workers protested here Thursday to demand a higher minimum wage – currently the equivalent of $5 for eight hours – as inflation surges in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Efe witnessed police using tear gas and live rounds to break up the demonstration.

Most of the participants were women who work at the textile factories clustered at the industrial park in Port-au-Prince.

Besides asking for the minimum pay to be tripled to 1,500 gourdes ($15) for an eight-hour day, the workers want transportation and food subsidies.

One woman wept as she complained that 500 gourdes ($5) a day is not even enough to feed herself.

Haiti has been mired in recession for the last three years and the economic woes are aggravated by political instability and natural disasters.

The country is currently led by acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry, installed following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, 2021, weeks before southwestern Haiti suffered a powerful earthquake.

Some 4.9 million Haitians, or 43 percent of the population, are in need of aid, according to estimates from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Late last year, the Henry administration sharply raised the prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene, contending that Haiti could no longer afford to spend $300 million a year on fuel subsidies.

Moise’s attempt to eliminate fuel subsidies in July 2018 sparked violent protests and left the president permanently weakened politically.

The price of diesel more than doubled, from $1.69 to $3.53 a gallon. Kerosene, used by rural dwellers and the urban poor to light lamps, went from $1.63 to $3.52 a gallon.

The increased fuel prices are burdensome in themselves and have also made basic goods more expensive by raising transportation costs. EFE mp-mm/dr

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