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9108: Open letter to Haiti's Minister of Social Affairs (fwd)

From: Tttnhm@aol.com

Open letter to Haiti's Minister of Social Affairs from the Haiti Support 
Group - 24 September 2001

Mme. Eudes St. Preux Craan 
Ministre des Affaires Sociales 
16 Rue de la Révolution

Dear Mme. Eudes St. Preux Craan,

The Haiti Support Group, a solidarity organisation based in London, United 
Kingdom, has since 1996 been in close contact with the Haitian organisation, 
Batay Ouvriye. Thanks to Batay Ouvriye, which has provided us with regular 
news bulletins and forwarded our correspondence, we have developed close ties 
with a number of newly formed unions in Haiti.

We are writing now to draw your attention to recent developments at 
Habitation Desglereaux, a plantation near the northern village of Quartier 
Morin, where oranges, cacao and coffee are grown. We understand from Batay 
Ouvriye that at the end of June 2001, the plantation owner, Mr. Nonce Zéphir, 
gave an order that all the members of the newly formed union, Sendika Ouvriye 
Abitasyon Deglewo, be dismissed. We are dismayed that this action appear to 
have been ordered in direct response to the workers' legitimate and 
constitutionally-guaranteed decision to form an association in order to enter 
into collective bargaining.

If this infringement of civil liberties and labour rights was not bad enough, 
we are alarmed to hear of your Ministry's apparent failure to intervene on 
behalf of these victimised workers in accordance with what we understand to 
be its mandate to regulate Haiti's labour affairs. 

We are informed that on 26 June 2001, a meeting took place between the 
coordinator-general of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Mr. Jean-Robert 
Pierre-Louis, the director-general of the northern department's regional 
office of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Mr. Richard Eugène, an inspector 
employed by the regional office, Mr. Dalusma Dieujuste, and three 
representatives of the Batay Ouvriye organisations. We are informed that this 
meeting convened to discuss a number of labour issues in the northern 
department, agreed, among other things, that: 

1) the Ministry of Social Affairs would, the following week, convene a 
meeting in which all the involved parties would participate - the Zéphir 
brothers who manage the Guacimal, Marnier-Lapostolle, and Novella companies, 
as well as Habitation Desgleraux; representatives of Batay Ouvriye and the 
relevant unions; and representatives of the Ministry;
2) the regional office of the Ministry of Social Affairs would make an 
on-site inspection at the Habitation Desglereaux on 2 July.

We are now informed by the legally registered union federation, the 
Intersyndicale Premier Mai – Batay Ouvriye, that the planned general meeting 
has never in fact taken place. First, the Intersyndicale Premier Mai – Batay 
Ouvriye was told the northern office's regional director, Mr. Richard Eugène 
was not available. Then when he did become available, the Intersyndicale was 
told the meeting was not possible because you, the Minister, were travelling. 
Apparently the meeting has still not taken place, and the Intersyndicale's 
request for a meeting date has continually been denied. 

Furthermore, we are also informed that, although the Ministry's inspection at 
Habitation Desglereaux was carried out, there has been no appropriate 
follow-up. The Ministry's inspector, Mr Dalusma Dieujuste met with the 
members of the executive committee of the Sendika Ouvriye Abitasyon Deglewo 
who explained to him in length how the plantation manager, Smith Mondesir, 
had threatened them, gone to their homes, frightened their wives, attempted 
to seize their vehicles, tried to have them arrested, and carried out other 
such acts of intimidation. After this meeting Mr Dalusma Dieujuste then 
returned to Cap-Haitien where, we are informed, he explained to Julien 
Petit-Frere, the Intersyndical's general coordinator, that he hadn't been 
told of any of this. In the opinion of the Intersyndicale, Mr. Dalusma 
Dieujuste is in league with the plantation owner, Mr. Nonce Zéphir, and 
apparently has no intention of reporting the serious abuse of workers' rights 
that has taken place at Habitation Desglereaux. 

We are writing to ask you to investigate your Ministry's apparent failure to 
keep to its promises, and its apparent dereliction of duty in not intervening 
to either protect workers' legal rights or to help resolve long-running and 
sometimes violent disputes between workers and management in the northern 
department. (see the Haiti Support Group web site - 
www.gn.apc.org/haitisupport - for details of the workers struggle for 
improved pay and conditions at the Cointreau/Guacimal plantation and prcesing 

We note that at the Organisation of American States meeting in Lima, Peru, on 
11 September 2001, Haiti signed up to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, 
a hemispheric-wide pledge that includes the following Article, #10:

"The promotion and strengthening of democracy requires the full and effective 
exercise of workers’ rights and the application of core labor standards, as 
recognised in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration on 
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and its Follow-up, adopted in 
1998, as well as other related fundamental ILO conventions. Democracy is 
strengthened by improving standards in the workplace and enhancing the 
quality of life for workers in the Hemisphere."

We also note that a delegation from the International Labour Organisation 
(ILO) has just concluded a four day visit to Haiti within the framework of 
cooperation between the ILO and the Ministry of Social Affairs. The ILO of 
course promotes the acceptance of minimum standards of basic labour rights, 
including freedom of association, the right to organise, collective 
bargaining, abolition of forced labour, and equality of opportunity and 

Minister St. Preux Craan, in the light of the above, the Haiti Support Group 
trusts that you will be able to reassure us that both the general meeting to 
resolve continuing labour-management disputes in the northern department, and 
the proper inspection, report and action regarding the dismissal and 
intimidation of union members at Habitation Desglereaux, will take place as 
soon as possible, and that the outcome will be widely publicised by your 

Furthermore, the Haiti Support Group trusts that the Ministry of Social 
Affairs will play a full role in the application of Article 10 of the OAS 
Inter-American Charter, and in the implementation of the ILO's minimum 
standards of basic labour rights in Haiti.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Arthur
executive director, the Haiti Support Group

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of Haiti,
International Labour Organisation
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, 
Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations 
GMB European Office
GMB Head Office - London
International Labor Rights Fund
Campaign for Labor Rights
International Centre for Trade Union Rights
PSI Caribbean
Policy & Information Center for International Solidarity
Alliance for Global Justice
Sweatshop Watch
Maquila Solidarity Network
Business & Human Rights
Left Business Observer
Labor Notes
Multinational Monitor
War on Want
Christian Aid
The Guardian
BBC World Service
Latin America Press
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Reseau Solidarite
Coordination Europe-Haïti
Collectif Haiti de France
Broederlijk Delen
International Lawyers' Office - Port-au-Prince
Radio Haiti Inter
Radio Metropole
Radio Kiskeya
Radio Vision 2000
Agence Haiti de Presse
Haiti Progres
The Haitian Times
Haiti en Marche
Partners in Health
Windows on Haiti
National Coalition for Haitian Rights
Anten Ouvriye
Aksyon Katolik Ouvriye
Sendika Ouvriye Abitasyon Deglewo
Intersyndicale Premier Mai – Batay Ouvriye,
Syndicat des Ouvriers de Guacimal Madeline 
Syndicat des Ouvriers de Guacimal St. Raphael 
Syndicat des Ouvriers de Marnier-Lapostolle
Syndicat des Ouvriers des Etablissements Novella
Batay Ouvriye


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The Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for 
justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.