A tragedy has deeply affected Haiti. The epicentre of the worst earthquake in Haitian history was near the capital of the country, destroying two thirds of Port-au-Prince. The situation is dramatic, three million homeless, over 100,000 dead, hundreds of thousands injured and dead bodies everywhere. The entire population is sleeping in the streets and waiting for replies to their pleas and more blows… We cannot remain indifferent to the Haitian situation. The Black people of the poorest country in the continent is facing a brutal tragedy. But you cannot attribute the death and destruction only to the size of the earthquake. A severe natural disaster has befallen a country devastated by capitalism. The earthquake would not have had the same effect if it was in a different social situation.
It is our duty as fellow trade unionists and workers to support the labour movement in Haiti. Unemployment in Haiti reaches 70-80% in Port-au-Prince. The few employees live with a wage of £40. There is no national health care structure. There are very few public hospitals across the country which are able to play any effective role at this time. After the earthquake, after watching their homes collapse, the survivors groped to wrest others from the rubble who were buried. The wounded are accumulated in the streets with no possibility of being assisted by anyone.
The 9,000 UN troops are not helping people in fact the UN has been used to suppress protests by Haitian workers, as in August 2009, during the strike of textile workers to improve their wages, the strike that ended with two dead. They also suppressed the students who were demonstrating against the troops and arrested twenty last November.
Batay Ouvriye is known in the European labour movement and is a community centred, trade union, one of the labour organisations that represent the factory workers and the poor in Haiti. During the dock workers dispute a representative of Batay Ouvriye met the Women of the Waterfront in 1997.
1) We appeal to the trade unions and labour movement organizations to make a solidarity campaign in support of Haitian workers and collect contributions to send to the Haitian labour movement.
2) We propose to send the money directly to the labour movement in Haiti, for example Batay Ouvriye (http://www.batayouvriye.org/)
3) We urge the British labour movement to send a delegation to Haiti to establish direct links with Batay Ouvriye reciprocating the journey they made in 1996 to support the Liverpool dock workers.
4) We agree to organize a labour movement meeting in order to deepen support.
5) We support the ‘Trade Union and Community Seminers’ that are showing “The Price of Sugar’ film in support of Haiti.
6) We call on the Trade Union movement to bring pressure on the government and international movement to write off Haiti international debt of £550 million. This will enable Haiti to at least attempt to stabilize the dire financial crisis facing this devastated country.