CUPE leaders are currently in Haiti on a trade union delegation hosted by the Confédération des travailleurs et travailleuses des secteurs publics et privé (CTSP). The delegation includes Brother Denis Bolduc, President of SCFP Québec, Sister Royse Henderson, provincial vice-president of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales and member of the SCFP-Québec women’s committee, representatives from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
The CTSP is an active trade union confederation in Haiti. It campaigns for the rights of workers to organize, and supports collective bargaining for an end to the harsh working conditions and low wages workers face today. Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, where over 60 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, including public sector workers. The country continues to struggle with complex economic and social issues linked to historic colonial rule, the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2010, and foreign interference in their democratic and economic process.
The delegation has been meeting with workers from the Haitian energy, health, and education sectors who shared experiences of mass jobs loss, privatization, underfunding and a general atmosphere of trade union harassment and repression.
Despite this, the labour movement is being revitalized and the government and employers in the country are starting to take notice. The delegation returned from a visit to a remote region of Haiti where the CTSP has organized fishermen and women, and has contributed to relief efforts following the hurricane in 2016.
The last time CUPE met with the CTSP was in 2011 at the opening of the CTSP office in Port‑au‑Prince (add CUPE link). That office has since become a hub of activity and a central meeting point for workers in the city. The delegation met with the women’s committee who said this is a space where women have been organizing themselves to confront the struggles they face in the workplace and in society generally, with a focus on the struggle of domestic workers in the country.
The delegation will return to Canada on July 13 where they will consider opportunities to engage with the Canadian Government and the labour movement on the precarious and volatile situation facing workers and trade unions in Haiti.