Levi’s “Vehemently Denies” Blocking Wage Hikes for Haitian Factory Workers

Levi's "Vehemently Denies" Blocking  Wage Hikes for Haitian Factory Workers

Levi’s Strauss is defending its name after The Nation published an article yesterday alleging that contractors for the company, along with contractors for Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, pushed to block proposals that would boost the minimum wage for Haiti’s garment workers.

The allegations came from Wikileaks cables obtained by Haïti Liberté, which described efforts made by the U.S. government and local factory owners to prevent Haiti’s minimum wage from rising to $5 a day from $3 a day.

Following the publication, Levi Strauss & Co. printed a statement on its website to “vehemently deny” that they were involved in any lobbying efforts to block the wage hike: “Levi Strauss & Co. did not lobby the Haitian government against raising the minimum wage — nor did we ask anyone to do so on our behalf.”

The company also listed efforts they’ve made to help Haitian workers and directed readers to a Planet Money article that provided additional context about the garment industry in Haiti.

The Nation’s report also suggests that while the current pay rate of $3 a day for T-shirt makers in Haiti may seem appalling, it’s actually wage that puts these workers above 80 percent of their fellow citizens who live on less than $2 a day. It also points out that a wage hike could make other countries, like Nicaragua and Guatemala (which have less volatile political landscapes and a more reliable infrastructure than Haiti) more attractive options for retailers, which could further punish workers in the impoverished nation.

BY Emily Feldman


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