Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Haiti

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Haiti, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 10,000,000
Capital: Port-au-Prince
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The foundation for exercising trade union rights remains porous, as employers enjoy great freedom in countering union organising attempts. Labour dispute resolution remains ineffective, and sanctions for violating the labour legislation are lacking. Many categories of workers enjoy limited or no freedom of association, and the right to strike is excessively restricted.

Trade union rights in law

Despite promises of reform, trade union rights are not adequately secured in law. While the Constitution provides for freedom of association, the Labour Code excludes many categories of workers from its scope. Any association comprising more than 20 people must also receive prior authorisation from the government in order to be recognised. Civil servants and agricultural workers are not covered by the Labour Code, and foreign workers are not allowed to hold union leadership posts. While the law bans anti-union dismissals, it does not provide for reinstatement.

Furthermore, the right to collective bargaining is not guaranteed as employers are not obliged to meet or negotiate with trade unions. The authorities also have the power to intervene in the drafting of collective agreements. In addition, the parties to a collective dispute must try to resolve their differences by using mediation, conciliation and arbitration, and it is a tripartite consultation committee that gives the final ruling on a dispute.

Although the right to strike is provided for in the Constitution, no strike may exceed one day. The Law also defines three types of strikes and any action that does not fit one if those definitions is considered illegal. Finally, strikes are illegal in public sector enterprises.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The political turmoil continued as the incumbent Prime Minister was sacked in October after only holding her post for one year, and was replaced by Jean-Max Bellerive. Protests and strikes erupted during the year in attempts to raise the daily minimum wage in one of the most impoverished nations in the Western hemisphere. The government, which had the dubious honour of leading one of the most corrupt countries in the world, eventually decided on 125 gourdes (USD3) in August. Many children – most of them girls – were sent away from their homes to work as domestic helps in conditions akin to slavery.

Hostility toward union organising: As a result of political turmoil, a climate of violence, record unemployment and the complicity of a weak state, employers have enjoyed absolute freedom. Those trying to organise workers in a union are constantly harassed or dismissed, generally in breach of the labour legislation. To prevent workers from joining unions, employers give bonuses to those who are not union members.

Employer impunity: The government has never fined an employer for interference in a union's internal affairs, despite the fact that such acts are prohibited by the Labour Code. Enquiries into abuses committed against trade unionists rarely produce results.

Dispute resolution virtually non-existent: The institutions set up to resolve labour disputes are completely dysfunctional. The Tripartite Committee responsible for mediating and arbitrating disputes has been a failure, since the cases submitted to it are never resolved. The industrial tribunals system is also defective, since trials are rarely fair, judges are poorly trained and deadlines are not respected. Using a lawyer is often prohibitively expensive, resulting in the workers hardly ever using the industrial tribunals. When the tribunals do pronounce in favour of the workers, their rulings are not implemented.

Labour inspectorates ineffective: Charged with enforcing legislation, labour inspectorates are often short-staffed, poorly equipped and badly trained, or even directly threatened by employers.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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