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6209: Re: 6207 - Marnier workers' pay (fwd)

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

Re: 6207 - Marnier workers' pay

Keywords: unions, pay, Grand Marnier, oranges

The confusion in the Morning Star article arises from the fact that there 
are a variety of workers with a variety of pay regimes employed by the 
Novella company on behalf of Marnier-Lapostelle. There are day laborers who 
are paid by the day, and there are orange pickers, cutters and peelers who 
are paid according to the number of cases of oranges that they either fill 
or empty each day.

I paste below the details of the pay increases agreed by the Union of 
Marnier-Lapostelle Workers and the Novella company, run by Daniel Zephir, 
after a final round of negotiations regarding salaries was held at the 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor office on July 25th. Both parties 
concluded on these terms:

Day laborers: Will earn 95 gourdes per day, ($US 4.75). This constitutes a 
55% raise over the miserable 52 gourdes they were earning previously. The 
difficult process of arriving at this arrangement went through the following 
steps: from 70 gourdes to 75 gourdes, to 86 gourdes and finally 95 gourdes?! 
At long last (after three hours of discussions!!) Zephir begged the workers 
to concede the remaining  5 gourdes of their initial demands. However, it is 
important to note that only a small number of workers are daily wage earners 
on the plantation. Most of them are working on a piece rate basis such as 
the orange pickers, cutters and peelers.

(note: to make any sense of the pay rates you need to know that each full 
case of oranges contains approximately 150 oranges, and that orange cutters, 
for example,  can only complete about 4 or 5 cases during one day.)

Orange Pickers: Each two-person team - one up the tree, the other 
underneath, will earn 7.25 gourdes per case, a 57% raise over their previous 
4.10 G. This negotiation lasted almost as long as the previous one. And 
shocking as it is, Zephir begged the workers to accept a reduction of 0.25 
gourdes from their initial demands.

Orange Cutters: Grand Marnier accepted this groups? initial demand as 
presented, (i.e. 25 gourdes per case). This implies that a 2-worker-team 
completing 5 cases a day will earn 125 gourdes or 62.5 gourdes each.

Orange Peelers: Due to the length of this negotiation talks, it was agreed 
that more discussions about specific wages will be done after the opening of 
the coming working season.

The Union notes that their salary demands dated back nearly one year ago.  
And the yearly inflation rate was up from 12 to 15%, eating away further 
their purchasing power. Their demand was merely a small wage adjustment, not 
a salary hike.

To put the pay in clearer perspective, consider these prices - provided by 
Batay Ouvriye earlier this year (certainly already out of date): a stick of 
bread: 5 gourdes; a short ride on public transport: 2.5 gourdes, a basic 
meal (rice and beans, without meat, vegetables or salad) purchased in the 
street: 15 gourdes, minimum; a soft drink: 6 gourdes; a beer: 20 gourdes.

Also consider the fact that the Marnier workers are laid off for between 3 
to 6 months every year when no work takes place. They do not know when the 
new season will start again - this is decided by the management who puts the 
word out that work will resume at short notice. Therefore, workers cannot 
take other employment during the 'dead season'. During these months, they 
are unemployed and unpaid.


Details of the continuing struggle for improvements in pay and conditions at 
the Cointreau plantation and processing plant can be found at

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justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.
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