Labor law and practice in Haiti


Material Information

Labor law and practice in Haiti
Series Title:
BLS report ;
Physical Description:
1 online resource (iv, 55 p.) : ill. ;
Pinkard, Mary
Hayes, Robert C
United States -- Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics :
For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Labor laws and legislation -- Haiti   ( lcsh )
Droit du travail -- Haïti   ( ram )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 54-55).
Statement of Responsibility:
drafted by Mary Pinkard ; revised by Robert C. Hayes.
General Note:
Title from PDF cover (LLMC Digital, viewed on Sept. 29, 2010)

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BLS Report No. 244


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1 W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary
.* Ewan Clague, Commissioner

NEW.' YOR 27, IN, Y;


This report is one of a series being prepared in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. The series is intended pri-
marily to provide information on labor in foreign countries for Govern-
ment officials, and for U.S. businessmen, students, and other members of
the public.
Source material used in preparing this study included Foreign Service
despatches, official publications of the Government of Haiti, books, and
periodicals. Most of the research was completed before April 1963.
The report was drafted by Mary Pinkard and revised by Robert C.
Hayes under the supervision of Juliet F. Kidney, in the Bureau's Division
of Foreign Labor Conditions, William C. Shelton, Chief.

August 1963

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington D.C., 20402.-Price 40 cents.


Part I. The country and its workers -------------------------- 1
Chapter I. Geographic setting --------------------- --- ------------- 1
Location and area --------------------------------------- 1
Geographic, climatic, and economic factors -- -------- 1
Chapter II. Manpower resources ----------------------- --- 5
Population and labor supply ------------------------ ----- 5
National service system ----------------- 10
Special characteristics of the labor force -------------------- 10
Chapter III. Culture and customs ------------------- 12
Ethnic groups ----------------------------------------- 12
Language -------------------------------------------------- 12
Religious groups ----------------------------------------- 13
Minority problems ------------------------- 13
Social structure ------------------ 14
Chapter IV. Education and health ------------------ 16
Education ------------------------ ------------- 16
Health and sanitation ----------------------- 22
Part II. Government and labor relations ------------------------26
Chapter V. Government ------------------- ---------26
Constitutional summary ---------------- ------------- 26
Labor legislation ----------------- ---- ------ ------------- 28
Agencies and tribunals concerned with labor ------------------ 29
Public administration --------------------------------- 32
Chapter VI. Labor-management relations --------------------- 34
Labor unions ------------------------------ --- ----- 34
Management -------------------------------------------- 36
Industrial relations ---------- ------------------------- 36
Part III. Conditions of employment ------------------------------- 39
Chapter VII. Pay and allowances ----------------------- 39
Categories of employment --------------------------------- 39
Base pay ---------------------------------------------- 39
Supplemental payments ---------------------------------- 40
Travel expenses -------------------------------------------- 41
Pay increases, promotions, and demotions -------------------- 41
Pay period frequency ------------------------------- -- 41
Withholdings and deductions ----------------------------------- 41
Chapter VIII. Hours of work and premiums ------------------ 43
Hours of work ----------------------------------------- 43
Nightwork -------------------------- ------------ 43
Periodic rest days --------------------------------------- 44
National and religious holidays -------------------------- 44
Overtime ---------------------------------------------- 45
Paid leave --------------------------------------------- 45
Chapter IX. Safety, insurance, and facilities ---------------- 47
Health and safety -------------------------------------- 47
Accident compensation -------------------------- ---------- 48
Social insurance -------------------------- -------------- 49
Staff retirement systems --------------- ------ 50
Employee services ---------------------------------------- 50


Part III. Conditions of employment-Continue(
Chapter X-Employment practices -_-__
Preemployment inquiries -----
Hiring -----------------------
Disciplinary actions ---------.
Notice periods and separations -
Grievances and complaints -------
Records and reports ------------
Selected bibliography --- ---------.-..


------ ------------ --- 51
-- 51
.--..-...-- ---- 51
--- --_---___----------- 52
-- -_------------ 52
- _5 2
.--.....-------.--.- 52
. . . . .. 5 4

1. Population, by department, 1950------------------------ --
2. Population of principal urban centers, 1950 ------------------
3. Population by age group and sex, 1950 ----------------------
4. Employed persons (age 14 and over), by industry and class of workers,
5. Occupation of wage and salary earners in selected industries in Port-au-
Prince and six neighboring towns, June-October 1959 ------.-
6. Percent of population which is illiterate, by age and sex, 1950 ----
7. Estimated school enrollment of children, 5-14 years, 1954-55 --.--
8. Types of schools and size of teaching staffs, 1957-58 ---
9. Number of vocational school graduates, 1955-56 ----------------
10. Types of grievances reported in 11 cities, 1958-60 ------ -----
11. Work conflicts in 11 cities, by type of enterprise, 1958-60 ----
12. Special minimum wages established by the higher wage board,
1951-52 ---- ------- -------------------
13. Monthly wage or salary by economic sector (excluding agriculture) in
Port-au-Prince and six neighboring towns, June-October 1959 ----

1. Distribution, by grade, of rural children attending school, 1961 --
2. Administrative organization of the Department of Labor and Social
Welfare __-- --..- -- ------- -----------------


-..i* International boundary

-*- Department boundary

@ National capital

Department capital
- Major all-weather roads

----- Major fair-weather roads






..... .HINCHE

Labor Law and Practice in Haiti


Chapter I. Geographic Setting

Location and Area
About 700 miles southeast of Florida, in that
part of the chain of islands dividing the Atlan-
tic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, which is
known as the Greater Antilles, lies Hispaniola,
discovered by Columbus in 1492. Haiti, a little
larger than the State of Maryland, but which
surpasses in size only El Salvador of the Latin
American republics, occupies approximately
10,700 square miles in the western third of the
island. The Dominican Republic occupies the
eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola. Haiti's part
of the island is shaped like a horseshoe, with
two westward jutting peninsulas half encircling
the Golfe de la Gondve. The deep indentation of
this gulf contributes largely to the 1,100-mile
The southernmost of the long chain of the
Bahamas lies 75 miles to the north in the Atlan-
tic Ocean. Fifty-five miles northwest, across
the Windward Passage, lies Cuba. Jamaica is
120 miles to the west. On the east, Haiti shares
a 170-mile border with the Dominican Republic.
Few people from these neighboring countries
come to live and work in Haiti. Migration oc-
curs the other way, with Haitians seeking work
in the agricultural activities of neighboring
states. Part of this migration is to the Ba-
hamas; some Haitians venture in small boats
500 miles south across the Caribbean to the
island of Curacao. During the 1920's and 1930's,
many Haitians migrated to Cuba. This move-
ment has now apparently ceased and no migra-
tion to Cuba has been reported in recent years.
Jamaica provides no work for Haitian people on
a seasonal basis, but the commercial education
offered there has attracted Haitian secretaries
who desire English-speaking training and ex-

perience and who cannot afford to travel to the
United States.
For many years Haitian laborers crossed the
border to work in the cane fields of the Domini-
can Republic, without incident, until 1937. In
that year, as a result of armed conflict precipi-
tated by this movement, several thousand Hai-
tian laborers were killed in the Dominican Re-
public, and the movement between the two
countries ceased. Border incidents continued,
however, and in 1949 and 1950, both sides com-
plained to the Organization of American States
(OAS), Haiti charging aggression and the
Dominican Republic charging conspiracy. In
1952, the two Governments arrived at agree-
ments regulating employment and living condi-
tions of Haitian migrant workers in the Domin-
ican Republic, and subsequently about 15,000
Haitians migrated annually to cut cane. Before
the end of 1961, this officially accepted migra-
tion had ceased.

Geographic, Climatic, and Economic Factors
About 80 percent of the country is mountain-
ous. The story is told that an Englishman,
asked to describe Haiti as he first saw it,
crumpled a sheet of paper and tossed it down
on a table. Four principal mountain ranges
and innumerable smaller chains rise from the
maritime plains to form a backdrop for every
port city. In the north, near the Atlantic coast,
the Massif du Nord rises behind the city of Cap
Haitien. Swinging southeastward from the
upper peninsula, across the central section of
the country, are the Montagnes Noires. Roughly
parallel, to the South of the Artibonite River,
the Chaine de Matheux runs southeastward
from the region behind the port of Saint Marc
toward the Dominican Republic. The highland






in the southern peninsula formed by the Massif
de la Hotte is continued eastward into the Do-
minican Republic by the Massif de la Selle.
None of these mountains is very high: the tall-
est mountain, in the Massif de la Selle, is less
than 9,000 feet. Only a quarter of the moun-
tain area lies above 3,000 feet. There is no
There are four major plains and plateaus.
The Plaine du Nord on the Atlantic coast is the
site of large sisal plantations. The Plateau Cen-
tral is an interior flatland extending to the
Dominican border between Massif du Nord and
the Montagnes Noires. Farther to the west,
between the Montagnes Noires and the Golfe de
la Gonave, is the Plaine de l'Artibonite, a large,
arid area. The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac crosses the
south central part of the country behind Port-
au-Prince. It is the most fertile, well-drained
soil in Haiti and part of the capital city's im-
portance in the economy is due to its location on
this plain.
Haiti has numerous small rivers, mostly rapid
streams coursing down the mountain slopes into
the sea. The most important river is the 147-
mile Artibonite River, which rises in the Do-
minican Republic and crosses Haiti to empty
into the Golfe de la Gonave, 50 miles north of
Port-au-Prince. It is navigable by raft and
canoe for about 100 miles from the seacoast.
The valley of the river, lying between mountain
ranges, was subject alternately to floods and
droughts until the completion of a dam in 1956.
This dam was planned to provide irrigation for
approximately 70,000 acres of agricultural land
and, after the necessary installations, additional
hydroelectric power; but work on the project
was halted in 1960. The largest lake is Etang
SaumAtre, a brackish, landlocked body of water,
about 100 square miles in area, in the southeast.
Since Haiti's economy is agricultural, cli-
matic conditions are of prime importance. The
mountainous topography helps to create wide
variations unusual in so small a country. There
is practically no rainfall on the lee slopes and
adjacent plains in the northwest peninsula, but
in some of the central valleys there is as much
as 90 inches annually. Generally, there are two
rainy seasons and two dry seasons. Rains oc-
cur in the spring from April to June, and in the
fall during October and November. In the north,
along the Atlantic Coast, winter is humid. In

the central part of the country the winter
months are much drier than elsewhere. In the
lower peninsula the fall rains are heavier than
the spring rains; this part of the country lies
in the path of hurricanes and suffers periodic
Temperatures vary with altitudes, but on
even the higher mountains temperatures regis-
ter no lower than 60 degrees. In summer, tem-
peratures range from 850 to 950 F.; winter
averages about 10 degrees cooler. The northeast
tradewinds bring sea breezes in summer, but
the areas in the lee of the mountains experience
the humid heat associated with tropical cli-
Because of climatic variations, agriculture
has developed differently in different areas.
Coffee, which constitutes 60 percent of all ex-
ports, is grown throughout the country under
various weather conditions and farming tech-
niques. The result is an uncertain yield, so un-
even in quality as to handicap its competition
greatly in the world market. Sugar is grown
chiefly-perhaps 85 percent of the crop-in the
area within 15 miles of Port-au-Prince; about
10 percent of the crop is grown in the southern
peninsula near the port of Les Cayes; and the
rest is produced in the north, near Cap Haitien.
Sisal is grown chiefly in the northern area near
Cap Haitien, and in lesser quantities along the
coast north of Port-au-Prince. The commercial
production of bananas is in the'north, but ba-
nana trees are cultivated sporadically in fertile
areas throughout the country. Cocoa, like cof-
fee, can be grown in most highland areas.
Cotton, which is grown in small quantities in
scattered areas, was once the major export, but
its production has declined for decades, and is
now of little commercial importance.
With the exception of the more inaccessible
mountain areas, most of the slopes and plains
are now bare and eroded through deforestation,
and the country's once valuable stands of ma-
hogany have almost disappeared. Pine timber,
however, still exists in large stands.
The only economically important mineral re-
sources are bauxite and copper, which are
mined by foreign firms from land leased from
the Government. Lignite deposits are reported
to be substantial in the Maissade area, but these
have not yet been fully explored.

Haiti suffers from a critical shortage of ade-
quate highways and roads, particularly in the
southern peninsula. The only all-weather roads
are those which link the port cities, and even
these are poorly maintained. The interior is
crossed by trails and dirt roads over which the
people carry their produce to market, on their
heads or by muleback. Several shipping and air
lines serve the country; the one international
airport is at Port-au-Prince. Between the port
cities, passenger and mail service is maintained
by the Haitian Air Force and by irregular pri-
vate bus and truck lines. Radio communication
is available in major cities and sporadically
elsewhere. Haiti had one of the first dial tele-
phone systems in the Western Hemisphere, but
its lines are overloaded and service is often
poor. In rural areas, loudspeaker trucks and
runners are used for communication.
In 1961, Haiti's gross national product
amounted to approximately 1,400 million
gourdes (US$280 million); the per capital an-
nual income of 330 gourdes (US$66) was one
of the lowest in the American Republics.' Con-
1 The national monetary unit, the gourde, is pegged at the
exchange rate of 5 gourdes=US$1. Printed on the paper money
representing gourdes is the statement that gourdes are convertible
to dollars at this established rate. There is, therefore, no market
rate of exchange differing from the official rate.
There is in Haiti a general misconception that this rate is
guaranteed by the First National City Bank of New York under
a convention between Haiti and the United States, dated April 12,
1919, but this convention is no longer in effect.

trary to the trend toward rising income in the
region as a whole, Haiti's per capital income has
been stationary or declining during most of the
years since World War II.
Haitian agricultural exports in Haitian fiscal
year 19602 were: coffee, valued in total at 60.5
million gourdes (US$12.1 million) ; sugar, 22.5
million gourdes (US$4.5 million) ; and sisal, 17
million gourdes (US$3.4 million). The princi-
pal nonagricultural export is bauxite, valued at
approximately 14.5 million gourdes (US$2.9
million) in the same year. Handcrafted or man-
ufactured items amounted to only about 2.5 per-
cent of exports; essential oils, copper concen-
trates, castor beans, wheat flour, goatskins,
honey, and beeswax accounted for less than 2
percent of the exports.

The tourist trade has received much attention
from recent Haitian Governments, and a cab-
inet post has been created to handle tourism as
an industry. Haiti's climate is ideal for winter
travelers; the island is on the trade routes to
South America; it offers magnificent scenery
and picturesque folkways. The immediate fu-
ture of tourism as an industry is uncertain,
however, because of political and social unrest.
2 The Haitian fiscal year runs from October 1 through Septem-
ber 30.

Chapter II. Manpower Resources

Population and Labor Supply

Haiti is the most densely populated of the
American Republics, although some of the other
Caribbean islands are more densely populated.
In 1962, there were estimated to be approxi-
mately 406 inhabitants per square mile (157
per square kilometer). The concentration of
Haiti's rural population in proportion to its
cultivated land and pasture land was estimated
in 1960 to be 923 inhabitants per square mile
(356.4 per square kilometer).3
The only general census, taken in 1950, placed
the population at nearly 3.1 million people. By
1962, the population was estimated to have in-
creased to more than 4.3 million. The rate of
growth, during 1953-62 (years for which re-
vised estimates are available), was 2.2 percent
per year. This was somewhat below the median
rate of population increase for Latin America
countries but about at the median for the Carib-
bean islands.4 The growth of the Haitian popu-
lation was due entirely to natural increase, since
there is virtually no immigration into Haiti. The
birth rate, by all available indications (vital
statistics for Haiti are meager, incomplete, and
contradictory), is possibly the highest in the
Americas (estimated in 1950 by the United
Nations Economic Commission for Latin Amer-
ica to be from 45 to 55 per thousand inhabi-
tants), but the death rate (over 30 per thousand
inhabitants) is such that the rate of population
growth is not correspondingly high. In 1950,
3 Social Progress Trust Fund, First Annual Report, Washington,
Inter-American Development Bank, 1961, p. 131.
4 Derived from data in United Nations, Monthly Bulletin of Sta-
tistics, March 1963, pp. 1-4.

the most populous of the five Dipartements into
which Haiti was divided was the Ddpartement
de l'Ouest, where the capital city of Port-au-
Prince is located. The least populous was the
Department du Nord Ouest, at the extremity
of the northern peninsula (table 1).
The population of Haiti is overwhelmingly
rural. According to the 1950 census, 12.6 per-
cent of the population was urban; but since the
census takers used an administrative criterion
(see table 1, footnote 2) to define "urban," 13
hamlets with fewer than 500 inhabitants and
21 other villages with fewer than 750 inhabi-
tants were included. Moreover, according to
one of the most careful students of Haiti (Paul
Moral in L'Economie Haitienne), the villages
in the interior are more rural than urban. Ac-
cording to Moral, only 11 cities (all on the
coast except Petionville, the residential city
adjacent to the capital) should be considered
urban. This reckoning would reduce the urban
population to about 240,000, or 7.7 percent of
the total 1950 population.
At the time of the census, there were only
five towns or cities with over 10,000 inhabitants
(table 2). Port-au-Prince was in a class by
itself with an urban population of 134,117 (37
percent) of the country's entire urban popula-
tion. The other four were: Cap Haitien (24,-
423) ; Gonaives (13,634) ; Les Cayes (11,608);
and Jer6mie (11,048).
Port-au-Prince, the major shipping and re-
ceiving point, handles 60 percent of the coun-
try's trading activities. All major transporta-
tion facilities are directed toward serving this

I Inhabitants
Departments Total Percent I per square
Departments 1 Total Urban 2 Rural urban 2 kilometer
All departments --------- -----3.097,220 i 391,553 2,705,667 12.6 111.7
Le Nord Ouest -------------------------------- 168,279 13,564 154,715 8.0 61
Le Nord ----------------------------------------- 539,049 74,096 464,953 13.8 131.5
L'Artibonite ---------------------------------- 567,221 48,898 518,323 8.6 83
L'Ouest --------------------------------------- 1,083,069 185,149 897,920 16.9 137
Le Sud -----------------..----------------------- 739,602 69,846 669,756 9.4 103

I Departments existing in 1950, and still functional. A provision
of the 1957 Constitution, not yet implemented, would add the D&-
partements du Nord Est, de Centre, du la Grande Anse, and du
Sud Ouest.
2 The criterion of the 1950 census for determining urban popu-
lation was partly administrative, i.e., the population of the centers
of local government, regardless of their size, were considered to
be urban.

3 One square mile equals approximately 2.59 square kilometers.
Hence the average national density of population in 1950 was ap-
proximately 289.3 inhabitants per square mile.
Source: Rdcensement Gendral de la Republique de Haiti, Aoit
1950, Ddmographie, Economic, Famille et Habitation, Agriculture
et Elevage (Port-au-Prince, Institut Haltien de Statisque), (1955-
1959), Vol. I, pp. 7 and 43; Vol. II, Tome 1, pp. 9 and 25; Vol.
III, pp. 10 and 26; Vol. IV, Tome 1, pp. 10 and 26; Vol. V, Tome
1, pp. 10 and 26.





Inhabitants per sq. km.

Under 25

25 to 100

100 to 300

Over 300





1950 1


Port-au-Prince -.. -
Cap-Haitien ----- --
Les Cayes
J4r4mie ---------
Petionville ---- ------ -- ---
Saint-Marc --------- -----------
Jcmel ----- ------ ---
Terrier Rouge -------------
Fort-Libert --- ------
Petit Gove ------- ----
Hinche ------ -----
Petit Riviere de L'Artibonite
Limnb --- -- ------- ----
Lnog&ne ----
St. Louis-du-Nord --- -- -----
Coteaux ---_-------
Trou du Nord ----------------
Grande Riviere-du-Nord ...-
Aquin .--.------- -------------
Miragoane ---- -- -----------
Port-a-Piment -
Gros-Morne -------------------
St. Michel de L'Attalaye ----- ---
Anse d'Hainault ----- ----
Lascahhobas---------- ---


I Includes all urban centers of over 2,000 population listed in the
1950 census. Seasonal migration of workers results in a temporary
population of over 2,000 in certain centers near sugar or sisal
production, whose permanent urban population is less than 2,000
(e.g. Phaeton and Paulette, near Fort Liberte).
SOURCE: Compiled from Rdcensement Gdngral de la Rdpublique
de Haiti, Aoft 1950, (Port-au-Prince, Institut HIltien de Statis-
tique), (1955-1959), Vol. I, p. 43, Vol. II, Tome 1, p. 25; Vol. III,
p. 26; Vol. IV, Tome 1, p. 26; Vol. V, Tome 1, p. 26.

city. It is the center of the country's financial,
commercial, and industrial activities as well as
the home of the university and the national

The next largest port is Cap Haitien, the seat
of the country's first government, now the capi-
tal of the D6partement du Nord. It handles
about 15 percent of Haiti's exports. East of
Cap HaYtien in the Departement du Nord are
two small ports, Fort Libert6 and Caracol, from
which sisal is exported.

Port-de-Paix, a town of over 6,000 inhabi-
tants, is the only port in the Departement du
Nord-Ouest. Many of the migrant workers who
leave Haiti bound for seasonal work in the Ba-
hamas depart from this port.

Gonaives, the capital of the Departement de
L'Artibonite, and the port of St. Marc are out-
lets for the products of the Artibonite Plain.
Together they handle about 10 percent of the
country's total export trade.

Les Cayes and Jdremie are the two major
ports in the Departement du Sud. In both
towns, industries are almost negligible except
for several small rum distilleries. Sugar, coffee,
and logwood (a dye element) are the principal

exports. From Miragoane, another port in the
D6partement du Sud, a town of about 2,500
people, processed bauxite is exported.

In the interior, a number of towns serve as
trading points, receiving produce from sur-
rounding areas, and are centers of operation for
distributors and agents from the ports.

In 1950, more than one-third of the popula-
tion of Haiti was 14 years of age and under
(table 3). The child population includes 14-
year-olds, although some of these (64,425) ap-
peared in the 1950 statistics as part of the em-
ployed adult population, since they held work
permits and were considered a regular part of
the labor force. Nearly 58 percent of the popu-
lation was in the age group 15 to 64.

Females were a majority in all age groups
except the 10 to 19 and the 40 to 54 year groups.
Women outnumbered men, especially in the
adult urban population, of which they consti-
tuted approximately 60 percent. Women were
slightly more mobile than men, in part because
it is the Haitian women who carry produce to
market and bargain for goods. Their contacts
are therefore broader than those of the men
and they migrate to urban areas in larger num-
bers as a result of their observation of urban
living. In the city, women find work a little
more easily than men, because of greater pos-
sibilities for them in domestic service, and

Age group Percent Male Female

All age groups ....--- 3,097, 220 100.0 1,504,736 1,592,484
14 and under-----------......... 1,173,098 37.9 588.453 584.645
Less than one year.. 73,597 2.4 30,345 37,252
1 to 4 years.....-----... 301,275 9.7 149,551 151,724
5 to 9 years......----.. 400,518 12.9 199,274 201,244
10 to 14 years ..... 397,708 12.9 203,283 194,425
15 to 24 years--......-----.... 575,427 18.6 275,629 299,798
15 to 19 years...-.. 308.026 10.0 154,287 153,739
20 to 24 years ..... 267,401 8.6 121,342 146,059
25 to 49 years.---.-----........ 987,113 31.8 467,079 520,034
25 to 29 years ....-- 277,177 8.9 125,172 152,005
30 to 34 years...... 189,144 6.1 85,278 103,866
35 to 39 years ....-- 229,644 7.4 107,718 121,926
40 to 44 years ...... 157,697 5.1 80,622 77,075
45 to 49 years..... 133,451 4.3 68,289 65,162
50 to 64 years.......... --- 227,171 7.3 112,961 114,210
50 to 54 years...--- 99,389 3.2 50,937 48,452
55 to 59 years....-- 56,828 1.8 27,804 29,024
60 to 64 years...... 70,954 2.3 34,220 36,734
65 and over............ 123,230 4.0 54,691 68,539
Age not declared -.....-----.. 11,181 .4 5,923 5,258

SOURCE: Compiled from America en Cifras, 1960, Part 1, Estadisticas
Demograficas, Washington, D.C., Inter-American Statistical Institute
(1961), table 11-30, p. 6.

probably also because women's wages are
than those paid to men.

In 1950, the economically active popu
was reported as 1,747,187. This figure inc
the unemployed who were registered wit
Government placement service (nearly 2.1
cent of the "economically active" populatic
well as the 14-year-olds who had work pei
Nearly 88 percent of all adults (defined as
15 years of age and over, plus the 14-ye
group with work permits) were economy
active. Of the 11.5 percent of the adult p(
tion that was economically inactive, ovei
(56 percent) were housewives and stui
The employment status of the adult popu:
in 1950 was as follows:

Economic status (thousands)
Total adult population--- 1 1,989

More than 83 percent of the economically ac-
tive population were agricultural workers in
the census year 1950. No other economic sector
engaged more than 5 percent of the economi-
cally active population, as is shown by the fol-
lowing tabulation:

Economic sector

.a".y Agriculture (includes forestry,
)pula- hunting, and fishing) ---- --
- half Manufacturing-
dents. Services ------------
Commerce ------_---------..
nation Construction -- ------
Transportation and communica-
Electricity, gas, and water ----
Percent Mining-- ---- ---
100.0 Not indicated -- ----


1 47,689

Economically active ---
Employed -----
Unemployed-- -- --- -
Economically inactive
Housewives--- -------
Students -----------
Other 2-------------- _
Status not reported ------.---

1 1,747
1 1,705

1 Includes 64,425 children 14 years old who were employed.
2 Includes disabled, retired, and those of independent means.
NOTE: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not
equal totals.
SOURCE: Compiled from Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique, Nos.
11-15, 1953-1954.

1 The difference between this figure and the figure for "not indi-
cated" in table 4 is apparently due to inclusion of the unemployed
segment of the economically active population.
NOTE: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not
equal totals.
SOURCE: ILO Yearbook of Labor Statistics, 1961, table 4, p. 27.

More than 8 out of 10 employed persons were
either self-employed or upaid family workers;
only about one in every nine persons was a
nongovernment wage or salary earner. The
proportions of employers and of government
workers were very small (table 4).


Wage and salary workers
Total Heads of Self- Unpaid family Not
enterprises' employed workers Private specified
Industry enterprise GovernmentJ

Per- Per- Per- Per- Per- Per- Per-
Number cent Number cent Number cent Number cent Number cent Number cent Number cent

All industries----------......... 1,705,139 100.0 26, 771 1.6 741,667 43.5 716,893 42.0 198, 795 11.7 16,408 1.0 4,605 0.3
Agriculture------------------ 1,453,891 100.0 20,022 1.4 641,222 44.1 703,963 48.4 85,802 5.9 931 0.1 1,951 0.1
Manufacturing...-------------- 85,361 100.0 3,612 4.2 40,743 47.7 7,034 8.2 33,142 38.8 414 .5 416 .5
Services -----.......-...-...--------....... 80,368 100.0 406 .6 8,167 10.2 566 .7 58,799 73.2 12,359 15.4 71 I1
Commerce --..--...........--- ..------------. 61,608 100.0 1,733 2.8 47,621 77.3 4,350 7.1 7,440 12.1 183 .3 281 .5
Construction ....----------. 10,265 100.0 505 4.9 2,117 20.6 161 1.6 6,341 61.8 1,071 10.4 70 .7
Transportation and communica-
tion ---.----..-------------.. 6,459 100.0 391 6.1 1,169 88.1 72 1.1 4,332 67.1 461 7.1 34 .5
Electricity, gas, and water..... 1,(141 100.0 4 .4 26 2.5 3 .3 282 27.1 724 69.6 2 .2
Mining -.--------------- 505 100.0 66 13.1 123 24.4 38 7.5 249 49.3 27 5.4 2 .4
Not indicated----------------................ 5,641) 100.0. 32 .6 479 8.5 706, 12. 5 2,4081 42.7 238. 4.2 1,778 31.5

1 The source apparently counts employers as employed persons, NOTE: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not
since it entitles this class "Heads of enterprises with paid em- equal totals.
ployees"; the total may include some others beside salaried and SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestrie de Statistique (Port-au-Prince
supervisory personnel. SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique, (Port-au-Prince,
supervisory personnel. Institute HaTtien de Statistique), No. 11, Dec. 1953, p. 132; No. 12,
2 Government workers are categorized by the source as a class of March 1954, p. 180; No. 13, June 1954, p. 144; No. 14, Sept. 1954,
workers (source de remuneration) rather than as an industry p. 166; No. 17, June 1955, p. 174.
groupe d'entreprise).


Economically active
Number Percent
1,747,187 100.0



In 1950, nearly 93 percent of the nation's
approximately 1.5 million agricultural workers
were self-employed or unpaid family workers.
Only 85,802, or 6 percent of the agricultural
workers, were wage or salary earners; these
were employed mainly by sugar and sisal pro-
ducers. Almost 50 percent of the agricultural
workers were female, the great majority of
them working as unpaid family workers. In
manufacturing, the self-employed constituted
the largest category, 48 percent of all the
workers; wage or salary earners constituted
about 39 percent and unpaid family workers
constituted little more than 8 percent. Manufac-
turing in Haiti includes the family type work-
shop which produces handcrafted items; almost
75 percent of the women engaged in manufac-
turing were unpaid family workers. In the
service industries, where nearly 75 percent of
the workers were wage and salary earners,
women outnumbered men about 5 to 4.
In commerce, wage-earning workers-
those employed by banks, export and import
firms, department stores and large grocery
shops-were a minority; the self-employed con-
stituted 77 percent of those engaged in this
sector of the economy. There were many small
shops which employed fewer than five persons.
Women outnumbered men 7 to 1 in commerce,
and the great majority of them are self-em-
ployed or unpaid family workers. Much that is
defined in official statistics as commerce is
itinerant trading,-pursued by "Madame Sarahs"
-women who travel the countryside buying
and selling in minute quantities, often trans-
porting their wares on the backs of donkeys.
Paul Moral gives an example of this kind of
A woman of the marketplace in Jacmel came to the
store in Marbial to buy some pears, hens, pork, other
meat, and syrup. She sold these products in Jacmel and
hastened to buy oranges, rice, corn, and peas, which she
then took to Port-au-Prince and sold. There she pro-
cured some denim, pants, blouses, robes, hardware, and
notions that she took into the mountains to start the
cycle of buying and selling all over again.5
Personal or family income levels are difficult
to determine. The income of the preponderant
category of self-employed agricultural workers
fluctuates with weather and market conditions;
and local variations in the prices of agricultural
5 Paul Moral, L'Economie Haitienne, p. 71.

products cause corresponding variations in the
income of those who produce and sell such prod-
ucts. Agricultural prices in the small ports of
J6remie, Jacmel, and St. Marc are generally
less than in the larger ports of Port-au-Prince
and Cap Haitien. In July 1956, for example,
a marmite (pot) of milled corn sold for the
equivalent of 6 cents in Jeremie, 13 cents in
Jacmel, and 19 cents in Port-au-Prince. These
differences in price are partly due to differences
in the mode of transportation (whether by
donkey or by truck), or packaging (whether
bagged or in drums or pots). The lack of stand-
ardization of weights and measures also com-
plicates the computation of income. More than
160 different measures are used in market
transactions in the interior-20 for coffee alone.
For the income of urban workers, as well as
for that of rural workers, there are little or no
up-to-date published data. (See section on Base
Pay, and tables 12 and 13.)
Unemployment and underemployment are
impossible to gage with precision. Existing
statistics on these subjects are incomplete and
out of date, and moreover, it is impossible to
measure the degree of underemployment among
the great number of unpaid family workers.
In 1963, Dr. Francois Latortue, former head
of statistical work in the Haitian Department
of Labor and Social Welfare, estimated that
over half the Haitian labor force was unem-
ployed or underemployed in 1963. Estimates
by other Haitians were even higher.
Two-fifths of the self-employed farmers, ac-
cording to estimates by Paul Moral, in his book
Le Paysan Haitien, work less than an acre of
ground and seven-tenths of them, less than two
acres. Although they call themselves proprie-
tors, they are engaged in what is called in Haiti
"grappillage," a word of colonial origin indicat-
ing successive cycles of small crops, a kind of
subsistence farming. These small farmers are
the mainspring of the agricultural life of the
country, yet their lot is sufficiently poor to make
any sort of paid work attractive. Most of them
are therefore easy to recruit for seasonal or
migratory labor. Sixty percent of the male
rural population falls into this category. An-
other 10 percent are "landless"-young peas-
ants with no fixed resources who have not yet
established themselves on the land, either

through ownership, lease of land in the public
domain, or tenant farming. This 70 percent of
the active male rural population over 14 years
of age are available migrant and seasonal labor,
unemployed except in the planting, harvesting,
and sorting seasons, and therefore underem-
The extent of underemployment, in the sense
of incomplete utilization of skills, is difficult to
estimate in Haiti. The small cadre of skilled
and professional labor is so much in demand
that there is no measurable underemployment
in this group. The limited amount and variety
of skills generally available to industry in 1963
does not prove an inability on the part of
Haitian labor to acquire new and different
skills. The average level of educational attain-
ment in the country obscures the Haitian poten-
tial in this respect.
The Government agency responsible for find-
ing jobs for unemployed workers is the Place-
ment Service in the Department of Labor and
Social Welfare, originally established as a place-
ment service for the Labor Department itself.
This agency now, however, maintains branches
in 11 cities-Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, Les
Cayes, St. Marc, Gonaives, Jacmel, J6r6mie,
Petit GoAve, Port-de-Paix, Fort Libert6, and
Trou. (See section on Agencies Concerned With
Labor.) There are no private employment

National Service System
There is no compulsory military training or
service in Haiti. The treaty which ended
United States occupation in 1934 established
the regular Haitian army at 5,000 men. Since
then, it has remained at this figure. There is
no organized reserve of ex-army personnel. In
Haiti, however, it has been traditional to enlarge
the armed forces in times of domestic crisis and
the army currently is supplemented by a civilian
militia, numbering 10,000 or more. The work-
ers usually conscripted in national emergencies
are the Government employees.
Haiti maintains one military academy at
Port-au-Prince. As a career, the military has
attracted those who regard it as a steppingstone
to a political office. All military officers are
commissioned by the President.

Special Characteristics of the Labor Force
Since about six of every seven workers are
engaged in agricultural activity, seasonal and
migratory work assumes great importance for
the labor force. Seasonal work in cutting sugar-
cane is offered during the autumn months by an
American-owned company near Port-au-Prince
and by two smaller enterprises, one (Centrale
Dessalines) in the Departement du Sud, and one
(La Rue) in the D6partement du Nord. The
largest of these operations, as of 1963, employs
about 2,400 regular workers. Of these, about
1,000 are employed the year around. The re-
mainder are employed for only 6 months of the
year, but are on the permanent roster and have
job rights. Most of this group live in the neigh-
borhood, and return to their own small farms
during the off season. In addition, from 3,000
to 5,000 canecutters are hired on day-to-day or
some other temporary basis for about 6 months
of the year. These latter workers are migratory
and come from all parts of the country.
Sisal is grown on at least 750,000 acres of
land in the country. The largest plantations
and processing plants are in the north near
Cap Haitien and Fort Libert6. The major com-
pany supplying sisal and fibers for export
formerly employed an estimated 3,500 to 5,000
workers on a permanent basis, but because of
a depression in this activity, following a drop
in prices, this number has been much reduced
since 1953. An equal or greater number of
cutters and strippers who work one plantation
after another are employed seasonally. The
"season" is a function of the life cycle of the
sisal plant, not of the local climate.
The periodic employment offered in the coffee
industry, Haiti's largest export crop, is in the
sorting and shelling of beans. Most of this work
is done by women-1,680 in Port-au-Prince and,
according to an official 1961 report, half again
as many in other cities and towns where coffee
is handled. The peak employment period in
coffee production is in the fall.
Industrial workers are employed largely in
or near Port-au-Prince. An important compo-
nent of the manufacturing sector is the number
of small workshops which produce handcrafted
objects for the tourist trade. Mechanization is
almost unknown except in the small textile in-


Administrative, Professional, Clerical and
Total reported managerial technical sales Skilled labors Unskilled labor
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent

Total--.........---- 415,411 100.0 522 3.4 681 4.4 5,374 35.0 3,198 20.7 5,636 36.5
Manufacturing...-..------. 6,519 100.0 284 4.3 59 1.0 506 7.7 1,689 26.0 3,981 61.0
Commerce.--.........--------.. 5,489 100.0 91 1.8 330 6.0 4,124 75.1 470 8.5 474 8.6
Services--------------............. 2,473 100.0 69 2.6 221 9.0 567 23.0 790 32.0 826 33.4
Mining.....----------- 493 100.0 45 9.1 38 7.7 23 "4-.- 139 28.0 248 50.3
Electricity---........... ---- 243 100.0 20 8.2 10 4.1 65 26.8 69 28.4 79 32.5
Transportation and
communications7 .... 194 100.0 13 6.9 23 11.8 89 45.8 41 21.1 28 14.4

1 Kenscoff, P4tionville, Carrefour, Rivilre Froide, Bizoton, and Mar-
tissant. Also included are the mining enterprises at Mem6 (near Gonalves)
and at Devonceley (near MiragoAne).
2 The data on which this table is based were gathered during the period
June to October: any fluctuations which may have occurred during that
period are not indicated.
a "Skilled" includes apprentices (645), one-fifth of all those classified as
skilled workers, as well as beginners and semiskilled workers.

dustry. Coffee beans, for example, are still
sorted by hand; shoemaking, cabinetmaking,
production of straw and sisal shoes and hand-
bags utilize simple hand processes.
About 20 percent of all wage and salary earn-
ers are classified as "skilled" in table 5. This
figure is misleading, however, unless it be noted
that it includes apprentices and beginners as
well as semiskilled workers.
Formerly, technical employees were for the
most part foreigners. This is no longer true.
In 1959, foreign technical workers constituted
about 1.4 percent of the total (681) reported
in table 5. Professional employees are a very
small part of the labor force-about 3 percent
of wage and salary earners in the comparative-
ly highly developed area covered by the table.
In addition to the usual professions, there is
a group listed as accountants who are regularly
employed as teachers but who do custom ac-
counting in their free hours. Professional
persons in Haiti have often received advanced
or professional training abroad.
Clerical and sales personnel make up a little
more than a third of the workers covered in the
table. Some commercial secretaries, having re-

Of the total 17,529 employees covered by the survey, 2,118 were not
reported by occupational group.
6 Includes small handicraft industry producing handmade tourist goods.
e Includes 21 carpenters.
7 Transportation and communication figures relate only to Port-au-
SOURCE: Compiled from the Revue du Travail, May 1960, pp. 101 ff
and May 1961, pp. 120 ff.

ceived training in Jamaica or the United States,
can use both the French and English languages.
Few, if any, clerical workers have experience
or training with computing machines or modern
posting and bookkeeping machines.
The productivity of Haitian labor is re-
stricted because output in the agricultural, in-
dustrial and commercial sectors is dependent
to a great degree on hand operations. The dis-
persed rural population raises crops with little
or no attention to market standards, with the
result that most Haitian products have received
limited acceptance on the world market. The
rural people are poor and technically untrained
and do not have the means to transport their
produce to central markets. Their usual busi-
ness is transacted in the local villages, where
one-fifth of a gourde (4 cents) is the normal
basic unit of exchange. Market prices are estab-
lished by traders and speculators who must
consider the cost of transportation in their
bargaining. Such conditions provide little in-
centive for the agricultural worker to improve
either productivity or quality, handicapped as
he is by illiteracy and lack of technical training.
No systematic study of productivity in either
industry or agriculture has ever been made.

Chapter III. Culture and Customs

Ethnic Groups
The population of Haiti is almost entirely
colored, and has been preponderantly so since
the 16th century. Roughly, about 60 percent
are pure Negro, 10 percent are mulattos or
quadroons, and the remaining 30 percent are be-
tween the two extremes. The indigenous Indian
tribes-Caribs and Arawaks-were rapidly ex-
terminated following the discovery of His-
paniola, and the importation of African slaves
began as early as 1509. The first of the slaves
were probably brought from Dahomey, which
at the time was a highly organized monarchy,
with a written language. Some slaves were
also brought from the Nigerian and Congo
jungles. The Spanish gradually withdrew to
the mainland, leaving what is now Haiti to the
French, who had established a settlement at
Port-de-Paix in 1664. By the Treaty of Ryswick
in 1697, Haiti was ceded to France. Hence,
French and African influences are now domi-
nant in modern Haiti, and few traces of Spanish
influence survive. Haiti (then known as Saint-
Domingue) became the most profitable of the
French colonies and the wealthiest of the
Caribbean communities-a land of great sugar,
coffee, cotton, and indigo plantations, owned
by the French and worked by African slaves.
In the early period of independence, most of
the whites who had not left the country were
massacred. Mulattos, when the acknowledged
sons of French fathers, were a privileged group
in the colonial period, and retained a higher eco-
nomic status during the national period. Since
1946, they have ceased to be a privileged class.
In that year, Dumarsais Estim6, the first black
(noir) to become President since 1915, was
elected after a campaign in which the color line
was made an issue. Since then all Presidents
have been blacks.
In 1963, ethnic differences have little to do
with social status. The basis of social differen-
tiation is education, privilege, and financial
status, rather than color. (See section on Social
Structure.) The Haitian does not equate him-
self with the North American Negro. He feels
that his is a majority status. It is nevertheless
true that specific informal names are applied
to degrees of skin color; the noir (black), the

griffe (three-fourths black), the mulatre or
mulatto (one-half black) and the quarteron or
quadroon (one-fourth black or less).
It is estimated that about 2,000 foreigners
live in Haiti, almost all of them clustered at
Port-au-Prince. The census for that city in
1949 (the latest information available) indi-
cated that, excluding diplomatic and other
special personnel, most of the foreign popula-
tion came from other Caribbean areas (Jamaica
and the Dominican Republic in particular) and
from Belgium and France. Only about 8 percent
came from the United States.

French is the official language of the country.
It is the language of all commercial and Gov-
ernment operations; of the literature and the
church. But the commonly spoken language is
Haitian Creole. All native Haitians speak Cre-
ole and about 10 percent speak French also.
Knowledge of one does not automatically enable
understanding of the other. The literate person
in Haiti can read, write, and speak French.
French, with English or Spanish, is a require-
ment in the upper grades of the secondary
schools. Clerical, technical, and professional
workers use French and usually one other
language as well. Unskilled labor, largely
illiterate, use Creole. Many who cannot read
or even speak French can understand it to some
The Creole language of Haiti is believed by
historians to consist of survivals of the
Dahomey and Arawak languages overlaid on
Norman French. Despite the common use of
Creole throughout the country, it is only now
being developed as a written language with its
own grammar and printed texts.
Ninety percent of the population over 10
years of age is illiterate. Efforts to reduce
illiteracy by using Creole instead of French
have met with some resistance. Creole has no
cultural status in Haiti. Because of this it has
been difficult to find teachers who were willing
to accept teaching of Creole as part of their
official duties. French is associated in the
public mind with better living and greater

prestige; the peasant (paysan) himself does
not regard use of Creole as offering social ad-

Religious Groups
Haitian religious practices define social
status as clearly as does language. Roman
Catholicism is the traditional and socially ac-
cepted religion of the educated, upper income
group. But the poor and the less educated have
for a long time practiced a folk religion called
vodun (or voodoo). This cult is traceable
largely to the slaves brought to the country
from Dahomey. Over the years, vodun has
come under the influence of certain Roman
Catholic forms.
In the early period of independence, during
the rule of Dessalines (1804-1806), the Roman
Catholic Church was disestablished and laws
were issued permitting divorce on very broad
grounds. The Vatican outlawed the Church in
Haiti and priests and bishops were not per-
mitted to enter the country. For over half a
century Haiti was in open schism with the
Roman church, and this long separation fos-
tered the growth of native religious practices.
In 1860, however, a Concordat was signed that
once again established relations with the Roman
Catholic Church.
The vodun worshipper considers himself a
Roman Catholic. He is profoundly respectful
of Christian sacraments,6 attaching great
social importance to baptism and to the formali-
ties involved in burial. He confesses to God and
places Him above all his other patron spirits
or "loas"; nevertheless, he continues to invoke
the favorable intercession of the patron spirits.
A belief in magic, good and bad, goes hand in
hand with vodun practices, which assume that
people can be haunted by the dead-that "zom-
bies" can rise from the grave.
In the early 1940's, the Roman Catholic
clergy started a vigorous campaign against
vodun. The campaign was short-lived and
essentially unsuccessful, as the Government
realized it was losing the support of the houng-
ans, or vodun priests. Vodun remains as widely
6 One observer commented that the Mass is celebrated in tongues
unknown to the people at large: Latin for the ritual, French for
the sermon-but some priests use Creole for sermons in country
chapels. (James G. Leyburn, The Haitian People, pp. 129-130.)

practiced in Haiti today as it ever has been, and
it has received encouragement under President
Frangois Duvalier.
The peasant may wear his charms, protect
his house with acacia branches, wear certain
colors as propitiation for his gods, but there is
no evidence that he rejects proper medical
attention such as innoculations against disease,
or that he refuses certain kinds of employment
as inconsistent with his beliefs.
In 1955, Protestant sects accounted for only
12.5 percent of the total population. There
were 53 recognized Protestant missions, the
largest of which were operated by the Evan-
gelical West Indian Church, the Seventh-day
Adventists, the Church of God, Evangelical
Baptists, and the African Methodist Episcopal
Church. These missions operated 433 urban
churches, including the Episcopal Church at
Port-au-Prince, and 911 rural churches. Half
of their total resources of about 2.5 million
gourdes (US$500,000) a year came from for-
eign contributions through the boards of the
churches involved.

Minority Problems
So far as minority groups exist at all in
Haiti, their basis is political. The economically
underprivileged are not organized. Labor
unions are not militant. Ethnic factors and
those of national origin have little divisive in-
fluence. Color is a common denominator, in
spite of the consciousness of shadings (as re-
ported in the section on Ethnic Groups), and
although the mulatto minority (formerly a
group of privilege, never one of protest) has
at times been the target of criticism.
Political protest has been recurrent in
Haitian history. Few presidents have tolerated
effective dissident groups, political or other-
wise. President Dumarsais Estim6, however,
allowed a degree of political freedom after his
accession to office in 1946. Trade unions were
legally recognized for the first time. The Com-
munist Party emerged briefly and elected a rep-
resentative to the Legislature. Since 1948, when
the Communist Party was legally outlawed, it
has operated covertly. In general, the spirit
of protest, or even of political opposition, has
not been permitted to form openly organized

groups. (For example, see Leyburn, The
Haitian People, pp. 211 ff.)

Social Structure
Literate Haitians constitute about 10 per-
cent of the population and form the dominant
social and political group. Within this sector
is a smaller group, an "elite," Roman Catholic
in religion and French in culture. Its members
are well educated, generally with more stress
on classical humanistic studies and legal train-
ing than on engineering, agriculture, and the
other technical disciplines. The women of the
group have only recently begun to enter into
public and professional life. The gulf that
separates the elite from the poor and illiterate
majority in the city and countryside is wide
and deep. Social mobility in Haiti is minimal.
The condition and the attitudes of rural
Haitians are affected by the confusion with
respect to land titles-a confusion so great that
often it is impossible legally to establish the
rights of de facto owners. Alexandre Sabes
P6tion, President of the southern part of Haiti
at the time when Henri Christophe was king
in the northern part (1806-18), began to break
up colonial holdings, parceling out land to of-
ficers and soldiers of the Army of Independence.
With some modifications, this practice was con-
tinued by his successors. Frequently, the sub-
division of the land took place without con-
sistent surveys and registration of titles. The
picture of ownership was further confused by
successive breaking off of acres to provide land
for adult sons, squatters' rights exercised for
many years on lands in the public domain, and
the long-established custom of the Haitian
Government to recognize natural children ac-
knowledged by their fathers. The resulting
uncertainty of land tenure causes a feeling of
insecurity on the part of the rural dweller. The
problem is all the more serious because, for him,
the ownership of a few acres is both the means
of livelihood and the basis of social status. The
fear of close inspection of land titles tends to
make him uncooperative with efforts to collect
vitaf statistics and perform similar Govern-
ment activities, and to cause him to fear tax
levies (U.N. Mission to Haiti, pp. 87-88).
The rural sections (see section on Constitu-
tional Summary) are little communities, often

isolated from central authorities because of
difficulties in transportation. Each section is
ruled by a chief who manages its public af-
fairs.7 Of this local leader, a Haitian observer
recently commented: "The personage who is
part and parcel of the rural landscape is the
rural police officer or the Section Chief. He
constitutes what one had in the ancient Roman
Empire-a veritable proconsul. He has here
. all rights over his fellow citizens "8
The local leader is always from a social group
-les notables (the notables)-which is made
up of the proprietors of 10 acres or more of
land, about 5 percent of the rural population,
and often includes, also, the owners of a wagon,
truck, or a small grocery store. The chief is
not chosen by popular election, but is the
natural leader who emerges as a result of his
economic status and personal character. He is
the "big papa" grann papa) of the neighbor-
hood, the man who can afford to include a
concubine in his household, or have tenants to
do his farming. In the more remote mountain
areas, however, rural society is more uniform
and democratic and family groups are the only
important social units.
The "notables" are the first of four social
groups into which the rural population may
be divided. Next are those (about 25 percent
of the rural population), who own 6 to 10 acres
of land, a rudimentary forge, or an animal-
driven mill. The third order of social import-
ance includes the smallest proprietors (60 per-
cent of the rural population) living on the
production of four or less acres of land. Below
them are the landless peasants (10 percent of
the rural population) who have no fixed re-
sources, many of them young men who have
not yet worked up to owning their own prop-
The average size of the rural household is
five persons. A type of common law marriage
(plagage) and polygamy are both practiced.
According to the 1950 census, there were six
times as many placese" as married women
among women 20 to 50 years old. "Honest
placage" (i.e., monogamous) is a serious union
7 Paul Moral is the chief source of this account. Cf. his L'Econ-
owie Haitienne, p. 554, and passim.
q Maurice A. Lubin, "Quelques Aspects des Communautcs Rurales
d'Haiti," in America Latina, Ano V. No. 1-2, January-June 1962,
p. 20.

and is socially acceptable; but the woman of
this union is never called Madame, but Petite
Maman. Legal marriage costs money; most
rural marriages occur in the late summer when
vegetable and fruit crops have been sold, or in
January when coffee, cotton, and sugarcane
have gone to market. They are often con-
tracted by the middle-aged or elderly who have
shared a plagage union for many years, raised
their children and are well established as
they can hope to be.
The rural Haitian considers children and
women as resources to be carefully guarded.
In the country it is said, "Les enfants, c'est de
I'argent"-"Children are money." In rural
areas, the woman acts as buyer and seller, the
man as producer. Although custom decrees that
the husband and father proclaim his superior-
ity and carry no burdens or packages, it is the
woman who adds to the household the fruits
of her own kitchen garden, handwork or weav-
ing, and her bargaining ability. Every month
of the year the peasant (paysan) has some-
thing to sell, and the woman's part in this
activity gives her a place of special importance
in the family's economic affairs. Women,
nevertheless, have no property rights and may
not contract more than one union as a man
may do.
In 1957, women for the first time exercised
the right to vote in national elections. They
organized for the promotion of social wel-
fare and for raising women's status and were
particularly interested in political and eco-
nomic rights. The first large-scale effort was
a national congress called in 1950 by the Femi-
nine League for Social Action. This activity,
however, was largely confined to the urban
61lite, and subsequently interest in the move-
ment subsided.
Between the 61lite group and the peasant there
is a small intermediate group, chiefly towns-

people. This group includes artisans, appren-
tices in the skilled trades, and former peasants
who have been trained in schools for needy
children and have now become urban dwellers.
Social life in Haiti, as described in many
sources, is dependent on few formally organ-
ized diversions. Except for Masonic lodges,
pre-Lenten carnival groups, and a rotary club
at Port-au-Prince, there are no social or fra-
ternal organizations. The peasant finds his
social life in attending cock fights and his wife
finds hers at the market place. Both find social
as well as religious experience in attending
church. In some communities, producer coop-
eratives and credit unions are centers of social
life. University students formerly organized
in student unions sometimes had political meet-
ings as well as social functions. Under the
Duvalier presidency, student organizations are
Haitians are extremely polite. They shake
hands at every meeting, regardless of the num-
ber of times they may see the same person dur-
ing the day. They resent any implication that
they lack initiative, responsibility, or practical-
ity. Urban elite dwellers entertain frequently,
and some lavishly. There are few organized
sports facilities aside from those in privately
owned country clubs and few public recreation
centers. For these reasons, social life revolves
around the home, and long, intellectual discus-
sions are an important source of recreation for
the educated Haitian.
Status is of major importance in all elements
of society. Certain standards of appearance
are maintained by professional workers, at
staggering cost. Not only does skilled or pro-
fessional work convey status, but among un-
skilled labor distinct categories are recognized,
and even among domestics there is no inter-
change of jobs if it involves a step down in the
social system.

Chapter IV. Education and Health

Haiti's constitution (adopted in 1957) pro-
vides that education shall be a responsibility
of the Government; that elementary education
is to be both free and compulsory for children
from age 7 to 14; and secondary education be-
yond the age of 14 is to be free but not com-
pulsory. Despite these legal provisions, Haiti
has the highest rate of illiteracy in Latin Amer-
ica. In 1950, 90 percent of the persons over 10
years of age were unable to read and write
(table 6), and as far as is known this rate has
not declined. Illiteracy ranged from 86 per-
cent of the 15- to 19-year age group to 92 per-
cent of the group 65 years and over. In all age
groups, illiteracy was somewhat higher among
females than among males.



Age Both sexes Male Female

All age group- 89.6 87.5 91.3
5- 9 years --.-- ..- 95.6 95.5 95.8
10-14 years ----- 89.6 88.9 90.3
15-19 years ------- 86.4 85.1 87.8
20-24 years --- -- 86.6 83.8 88.8
256-44 years --------- 90.2 87.3 92.7
45-64 years ------ 91.6 89.9 93.4
65 years and over.. 92.2 90.9 93.1

SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique (Port-au-Prince, In-
stitut Haltien de Statistique), Nos. 6-10, 1952-53, part 3, table IX.

The Haitian school system is highly central-
ized under the Department of National Educa-
tion. There are no school districts in Haiti;
supplying teachers and curriculum is the re-
sponsibility of the central authorities, not of
local officials. The State Secretary of Na-
tional Education, a cabinet officer, is directly
responsible to the President of the Republic.
There is some overlap in administrative re-
sponsibility between the Haitian Government
and the Catholic Church, and between the Gov-
ernment and certain private schools. The Gov-
ernment finances certain parochial and private
schools in whole or in part, but the operation
of these schools is largely the responsibility
of the church or the private organization con-
cerned. The Department of Labor and Social
Welfare has responsibility for workers' schools
for illiterate adults, but not for other aspects of
adult education.

The preponderantly rural character of
Haitian society intensifies the problem of il-
literacy and complicates the problems of school
administration. Haiti is the Latin American
country with the highest proportion of rural
population. During the period 1954-55, accord-
ing to the Haitian Institute of Statistics, less
than 11 percent of 708,000 rural children in
the 5 to 14 age group were enrolled in school,
as compared with approximately 90 percent of
90,000 urban children in the same age group.
In both town and country, there was a signif-
icant difference between the number of pupils
enrolled and the number actually attending;
the percent of those enrolled who attended was
higher in the urban schools (88 percent) than
in the rural ones (76 percent). With respect
to the size of classes, also, rural schools were at
a disadvantage; an average of 28 pupils per
teacher in urban schools contrasted with the
rural school's average of 62 pupils per teacher.
Moreover, less than 11 percent (21) of the
nation's limited supply of teachers with norm-!
school education (199) were in rural schools.
)The percent of rural elementary school teachers
with academic professional training of any
kind was only slightly higher (91 out of 767).'

5-14 YEARS, 1954-55 1


Total number of children -- ---------
Number enrolled in school -------------
Percent enrolled ------- --
Number of urban children -------
Number enrolled in urban schools-------
Percent enrolled -----------------
Number of rural children --.-------.-----
Number enrolled in rural schools ..------ --
Percent enrolled .



1 Statements of the 5 to 14 age group population are based on
the 1950 census; estimates of school enrollments in this age group
are based on samplings taken in 1954-55. Figures are somocwhat
low, because of omitting children under 14 who had graduated
from primary school.
SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique (Port-au-Prince, In-
stitut Haitien de Statistique, No, 23, 1956), pp. 14, 16, and 18.

The situation of rural teachers is also in-
ferior with respect to pay. Fifty-six percent
of all elementary teachers in 1955 were in
9 The material in this section is largely based on G. A. Dale,
Education in the Republic of Haiti, and on official publications.
Statistical data is for different years because of the limitations of
available data; except for the increased enrollment described, how.
ever, available sources indicate no important changes in educational
conditions during the span covered by the data presented.

urban schools and only 44 percent in rural; yet
64 percent of the teachers in the lowest salary
bracket-200 gourdes (US$40) per month,
the legal minimum-were rural teachers, and
only 36 percent urban. Rural teachers must
find their housing as they can; sometimes it is
a cot moved into a corner of the schoolroom
each night.
Rural classes are often held in small, mud-
walled, thatched houses, originally built as
homes but forced into service as schools. Furni-
ture consists of homemade benches and desks.
Books and supplies are not free in public
schools, and most rural pupils cannot afford to
buy them. The urban school buildings are gen-
erally of better construction, and more pupils
there can afford to buy books and other sup-
In both urban and rural schools, enrollment
has increased in recent years, but the rate of in-
crease has been greater in the rural schools.
From 1951 to 1956, total rural school enroll-
ment rose from less than 62,000 to more than
96,000, or 56 percent. In the same period, urban
school enrollment increased 44 percent.10 The
percent of those enrolled who were in actual
attendance also increased, although slightly.
Despite the notable increase in enrollment, the
vast majority of school age children (and ap-
proximately four-fifths of the 5 to 14 age
group) are not in school. Only a third of first-
year pupils in rural schools continue into the
second year, and less than 18 percent into the
third year. (See chart 1.) Urban schools have
somewhat better records, but lack of data
makes detailed comparison difficult.
In the elementary schools, and especially the
rural ones, there are language difficulties and
shortages of textbooks. In some schools, text-
books from France and Canada are used; some
copies of history and geography texts written
by Haitians are available; but many schools
are largely or entirely without textbooks and
other teaching materials. The official language
of instruction is French, whereas Creole is the
only speech of the rural people and of the less
privileged among the urban population. The
difficulty of overcoming illiteracy is com-
pounded, therefore, by the fact that many
10 The population of Haiti reportedly increased 13.2 percent in
the period 1950-60.

children begin their education in what is to
them a foreign language. A very limited begin-
ning has recently been made in using Creole as
the language of instruction.
There is a variety of educational institu-
tions-public, private, parochial (both Catholic
and Protestant), coeducational or for boys or
for girls only, and specialized schools of several
types. (See table 8.) Besides the Catholic
schools subsidized by the Government in 1957,
there were 387 nonsubsidized church schools,
with an aggregate enrollment of approximately
17,000. Most of these (225, with an enrollment
of 11,675) were Catholic schools; 106 were
Baptist, Episcopal, or Seventh-day Adventist;
other Protestant sects maintained five to seven
schools each.
All rural schools are elementary schools, i.e.,
they include only the first seven grades. Of the
15 public secondary schools or lycles sup-
ported and operated by the Government in
1957, 4 were in Port-au-Prince, 2 in Jacmel, and
1 each in 9 other towns. Eight were coeduca-
tional. Physical plants included a few modern,
well-equipped buildings, but most were
crowded, poorly lighted, lacking in seating
facilities, and generally unsuited to school use.
(See Dale, p. 74.) The average salary of
secondary school teachers in 1957 was equiv-
alent to about 350 gourdes (US$70) per
On the secondary level, there were also about
32 private schools in 1957. Nine of these (six
in Port-au-Prince) were financed in whole or
in part by the Government. This group was
generally more fortunate than the public
secondary schools as to teacher qualifications,
plant, and equipment. One of these was the
Petit Seminaire College Saint Martial, which
had an enrollment of over 1,000. It included
both an elementary and a secondary section
and also assisted in the training of the local
Catholic clergy.
In all subsidized secondary schools, the course
of study covers 7 years. Each school offers a
choice of three programs-Latin-Greek, Latin-
science, or science-modern languages-all de-
signed to provide a secondary education, com-
pletion of which will qualify a student for
admission to a university. In the period 1951


Percent of total attendance

-C1~4 CY)
0 CV 0o t0 0 0s
0 a
(*) .) q) L- q) L
-. 0 0. 0 0 0
a I..

Source: Country Economic Program for Haiti (Washington: Agency
for International Development, December 20, 1961), graph B accompanying p. 59.


Type of school

All types of schools .---------....
Elementary -----------------------
Public --------------------
Parochial ----------------
Private ...-----.-...-----
Rural ------------........................------------
Parochial- -----------------
Public -----------------------
Private .....------......------
Normal ----------------------
Rural ......------------------------
Vocational -------------------------
Nurse's schools .---------------...
Public --------------------------
Private commercial -.------------
Adult.. ---------------------- -
Workers (Department of Labor
and Social Welfare)....--......
General (Department of Educa-
tion) ......-----..... ..
University -------------------..........


Number of schools

Boys' schools Girls' schools

- _Teaching staff





I Omits some or all private schools.
2 Not available.
3 Includes 32 evening classes and two part-time schools.
4 Includes 92 teachers of evening classes and part-time schools.
Includes 107 priests and 255 nuns.
s All secondary schools are in urban places.
7Does not include the Ecole Normal Sup6rieure, which is on the Uni-
versity level. It had a staff of 31 teachers, all but two of whom were men.

to 1956, high school graduates from all Haitian
secondary schools numbered less than 300 per

The nonsubsidized private schools, most of
which have both elementary and secondary
levels, vary greatly in all respects. Some are
transitory, run as a sideline by teachers who
have other employment as well. Being de-
pendent on tuition, some have frequent fi-
nancial problems. Other private schools, how-
ever, are well established. The Institution St.
Louis de Gonzaque, for example, with a 1957
enrollment of 515 in the primary and 368 in the
secondary school, is one of the country's most
important educational institutions. Its library
has more books than the National Library, and
in the 5-year period, 1951-56, 57 of its grad-
uates were admitted to universities in the
United States, France, and other countries out-
side Haiti. Most of the religious brothers who
teach in this school are French or Canadian.
Like all but 2 of the 27 nonsubsidized secondary
schools in Haiti in 1957, this school is in

Several schools in Port-au-Prince have
sponsors in the United States. The Inter-Ameri-
can Schools Service, an agency of the American



160 '717 4,245 (2)
120 '82 2,672 (2)
71 71 1,463 4367
49 11 '796 264
(2) (2) 413 (2)
40 635 1,573 (2)
15 360 1,232 (2)
25 275 341 196
I21 (2) 495 (2)
2 8 419 368
(2) (2) (2) (2)
1 1 66 (2)
1 0 39 (2)
0 1 27 (2)
7 S 366 (2)
3 0 50 24
3 2 271 (2)
1 6 45 24
0 392 392 (2)
0 123 123 (2)
0 269 269 (2)
n 10 211 206



8 The University includes schools or faculties of agriculture, surveying,
polytechnics, pharmacy, obstetrics, medicine, dentistry, law, and eth-
nology, as well as The Ecole Normal Superieure and The Grand Se4mi-
naire Notre-Dame. The first three and the last are for men; the
others are co-educational.
SOURCE: Derived from Bulletin Trimestriel du Stalistique (Port-au,
Prince, Institut HaTtien de Statistique, Nos. 20, 31, 32 [combined]
March 1959), p. 198.

Council on Education, until recently operated
the Union School, which provided 231 pupils
with an American-type education from kin-
dergarten through the 11th grade. This school
closed in May 1963, with hopes of reopening the
following September with both elementary and
high school grades. The College Scminaire Ad-
ventiste is a coeducational Seventh-day Ad-
ventist boarding school on the secondary level
with a capacity, in 1959, for 90 students. In
that year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church
also operated 22 primary schools with an en-
rollment of 1,336 students. The Holy Trinity
School, an elementary coeducational school
supported by the National Council of the
Episcopal Church of the United States, had an
enrollment of 350 in 1961. In Cap HaYtien is
the Collge Pratique du Nord, a Baptist School
which in 1963 had an enrollment of about 300
pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 through 12.

Advanced technical and professional educa-
tion is offered only at the five normal schools
and the one university. The Superior Normal
School is part of the University. The others-
the Urban Normal School for Men, the Urban
Normal School for Women, the Elie Dubois
Vocational School, and the Rural Normal

School, with a combined enrollment of about
350-are on the secondary level. The teachers
are about evenly divided between clergy and lay
teachers. The former are mostly French or
Canadian; the latter are Haitian. In spite of
the contribution made by these institutions,
adequate training of a sufficient supply of
teachers is a major educational problem.
The university was established in 1944 by the
Government. It charges no tuition fees, re-
ceives no grants-in-aid from the Government
except for certain specific scholarships, and has
no endowments. Salaries for the professional
staff of the university are low-the average
monthly salary of 100 professors in 1959 was
the equivalent of 489 gourdes (US$97.80).
Many professional personnel hold several part-
time positions. Enrollment is about 1,000 stu-
dents a year, of whom less than 200 are women;
half of these study nursing. Since facilities for
higher education are limited, the Government
has provided some 300 scholarships a year for
study abroad.
The university embraces colleges or schools
of law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nurs-
ing, polytechnices, surveying, agriculture, the-
ology, and ethnology, as well as. the Superior
Normal School. The courses in law, polytech-
nics, pharmacy, and nursing are of 3 years'
duration; diplomas in medicine, dentistry, and
agriculture require 4 years of preparation. A
preparatory year is required in medicine,
dentistry, and polytechnics. For the doctorate
of medicine, a year. of internship also is re-
quired; and for a license to practice medicine,
2 or 3 additional years of specialization. Be-
sides the College in Port-au-Prince, there are
four law schools, in Cap Haitien, Gonalve, Les
Cayes, and JRr6mie, not affiliated with but con-
trolled by the University of Haiti, which con-
firms the diplomas granted. A limited number
of students in the Polytechnical School secure
part-time work in the Ministry of Public
Works, thus gaining practical experience in
irrigation, road construction, bridge building,
A 67-percent increase in attendance in voca-
tional schools occurred from 1951 to 1956. In
1956, there were 16 such schools with an en-
rollment of 2,500. Seven were boarding schools.

All schools were urban (10 of them in Port-au-
Prince) and hence available mainly to the 10
percent of the population that live in cities.
All vocational schools provide academic and
religious study in addition to vocational sub-
jects. Entrance requirements, programs, and
levels of accomplishment differ greatly. At one
school, pupils are admitted in the order of ap-
plication. For the most part, they are 10-year-
olds from needy families who are seeking in-
stitutional placement for their children. At
the E'cohle Nationale des Arts et Metiers, on the
other hand, applicants must be 14 or 15 years
old and pass a competitive examination which
in the past has eliminated 85 percent of the
In 1957, there were a number of highly quali-
fied teachers in the vocational system, some of
them trained in Europe, the United States,
Canada, or elsewhere in Latin America, who
helped to train other teachers. In one school at
one time, there were seven United Nations
experts, mostly of French nationality, working
under ILO auspices, who gave on-the-job train-
ing in teaching methods to the staff.
These vocational schools, all supported by the
Government, train a limited number of young
people to enter a few skilled occupations. In
none of the vocational schools, however, is
there instruction in agriculture, despite the
dependence of the national economy on agricul-
ture. The level of instruction ranges from prep-
aration for skilled cabinetmakers to minimal
training in simple hand processes for cobblers
who have spent a few years in a school which
served both as a prevocational school and an
orphanage. The number of diplomas awarded
for completing the various courses in all voca-
tional schools in 1956 was 177, in subjects rang-
ing from home economics to masonry. (See
table 9.)
Commercial education in Haiti is provided
almost entirely by private schools. In 1956, it
was offered in six licensed schools, all located
in Port-au-Prince. Tuition fees vary slightly-
none are over 25 gourdes (US$5) per month.
To enroll in a commercial school, the student
typist must have completed at least the first 3
years of secondary education; for accounting
and secretarial training, the student must have


Vocation Total Male Female
All specialties -- 177 | 53 124
Home economics ---- 77 0 77
Shoe making ---- 4 I 4 0
Tailoring 11 11 0
Cabinetmaking --------- 8 8 0
Electricity --- -- 4 4 0
Nursing 43 0 43
Hotel service --- 14 10 4
Masonry 3 3 0
Mechanic (general) --- 8 8 0
Mechanic (automobile)-- 3 3 0
Weaving --- --- 2 2 0
SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique (No. 23, December
1956), p. 158.

completed secondary school. Typing courses
last 1 year, and a speed of 40 words a minute
with less than 3 percent error is required for
certification. Accounting and secretarial
students take English, to which they have
already been exposed in secondary school.
Dictation and transcription are taught in both
French and English. The number of students
admitted to private commercial schools in the
1955-56 scholastic year was 76, of whom 48
were women.
A few commercial courses are offered in two
vocational schools but are neither as detailed
nor advanced as the courses in private schools.
Some secretaries go to Jamaica or the United
States for commercial training, if they can
afford it. The trained secretary in Haiti is
better educated than the group of elementary
teachers (3 out of every 10) who have had no
training beyond 6 years of primary and 2 years
of secondary school.
Attempts to meet the educational needs of
people beyond school age were first under-
taken by private and religious organizations in
the 1930's. It was not until 1947, however, that
the General Administration of Adult Educa-
tion was established by the Government with
the stated aim of "complete elimination of
illiteracy." In 1951, responsibility in the field
was divided between the Section of Adult
Education in the Department of Education and
a workers' education organization under the
Department of Labor and Social Welfare. By
1956, there were 300 adult literacy centers
throughout the nation, operated by the De-
partment of Education, with a total enrollment
of 11,656-but with an average daily attend-

ance of only 46 percent of this number. In the
same year, adult literacy centers operated by
the Department of Labor and Social Welfare
numbered 225, with a total enrollment of 4,390
with an average daily attendance of 61 percent.
Centers for adult education are frequently even-
ing schools. Many of them are in villages and
conducted in a rural school or other gathering
place. Typical of these schools is an open shed
erected near a crossroad and in a clearing out-
lined by white stones. The school is surrounded
with trees and shrubbery, groves of coffee trees
providing shade and coolness. The furniture
is crude; a single table, five benches on posts
planted in the ground, and two or three chairs.
Teachers are chiefly public school teachers,
giving service in addition to their regular jobs.
Subjects are taught in Creole and include read-
ing and writing, arithmetic, hygiene, civics,
and the history and geography of Haiti. In
some centers, the work includes organizing
community meetings, building latrines, pro-
viding first aid, assisting with agricultural
problems, promoting village cleanup pro-
grams, and improvement of houses. These pro-
grams are sometimes hampered by the language
The Haitian-American Institute, a binational
center assisted by the U.S. Information
Agency (USIA) and administered jointly by
Haitians and Americans, maintains a library
of 3,500 volumes in Port-au-Prince. Its chief
activity is giving instruction in English and
French. Over 800 students were reported in
1962 to be taking English classes at the Center
at Port-au-Prince and 218 in a local activity
at Cap Haitien. Most of the pupils are adults,
but special classes are held for children.
The staff of 19 persons includes 15 teachers
of English and French, some of whom are
Haitians. USIA has also sponsored a 2-week
summer seminar on methods and materials for
teaching English. In 1962, this seminar was
attended by 50 Haitian teachers, one-fourth
of them from areas outside Port-au-Prince, who
during the year taught a total of 6,000 students.
The Institut Frangais, at Port-au-Prince, sup-
plies teachers to the Superior Normal School
and to the University; provides lectures, films,
and radio programs; publishes a widely cir-

culated bulletin; maintains a library of over
3,000 volumes; and assists Haitian students
to obtain scholarships at French schools and
On-the-job training, or apprenticeship train-
ing, is regulated by the Labor Code and con-
ducted completely outside the school system.
This program provides that an apprentice must
be at least 14 years of age. All contracts gov-
erning conditions of apprenticeship are to be
written in French and registered with the De-
partment of Labor and Social Welfare, unless
the apprentice has been taken into the home
of an employer who has the legal status of
parent. The maximum duration of an ap-
prenticeship contract is 3 years, but the period
of apprenticeship may differ with the trade,
and the General Directorate of Labor may fix
the limits in agreement with the unions active
in the trade.
Since 1947, the law has required that ap-
prentices be protected by contracts under which
they "engage to work in exchange for voca-
tional instruction." In accepting an apprentice,
the employer agrees to provide theoretical as
well as practical training; to supervise conduct
and moral development; to provide a semi-
annual medical examination; and to grant a
15-day holiday every 6 months. An apprentice
cannot be forced to perform domestic work or
work alien to the trade he hopes to pursue; he
cannot do night work or work longer hours
than are usual in the establishment. The ap-
prentice, on his part, agrees to follow the in-
structions of his master and to be faithful and
punctual in pursuit of his duties. He cannot
abandon his apprenticeship without a reason,
which must be approved by the General Di-
rectorate of Labor.
In mining and quarrying, apprenticeship is
a required condition for engaging the service
of a minor. In this industry, one of the condi-
tions to be met in order to obtain a license to
operate is that the employer, at his own ex-
pense, operate a school to provide basic training.
Most of the requirements of the Labor Code,
on this subject, represent goals yet to be
achieved. There have been some sporadic ef-
forts to meet the standards set by the code, but
in 1963, such interest was largely dormant.

Health and Sanitation
The Haitian Government estimated the death
rate in 1950 to be slightly over 30 per 1,000
inhabitants, and the infant mortality rate to
be over 171 per 1,000 live births. For the
capital city of Port-au-Prince, the annual death
rate was estimated to be nearly 21 per 1,000
inhabitants, and the infant mortality rate be-
tween 65 and 82 per 1,000 live births. In the
nation's population as a whole, the estimated
average life expectancy at birth was 33 years;
if a child should survive the first 5 years, he
might expect to attain the age of 45; and if
he should survive for 20 years, his life ex-
pectancy at that point reportedly would ex-
tend to age 54.
The principal diseases in Haiti are malaria,
intestinal parasitic infestations, gastroenteritis
(in children), tuberculosis, typhoid, syphilis,
hookworm, and tropical ulcers. Statistics on
the incidence of diseases are largely limited to
hospitalized cases, which are inadequate for
nationwide generalizations, and to findings
with respect to specific diseases by interna-
tional agencies. According to reports of the Pan
American Health Organization (PAHO), the
regional branch of the World Health Organiza-
tion, Haiti has the highest national incidence
of malaria in the Americas. The number of
recorded cases per 100,000 population in 1960
was reported to be 1,101. A rate as high as
1,000 per 100,000 has been reported only in
parts of Brazil, parts of Colombia, and parts
of Nicaragua.
Tuberculosis has been a chief cause of death
among hospitalized patients. This disease has
been said to be most prevalent in the larger
towns with crowded slums, but figures are lack-
ing on the incidence of the disease in the
countryside. The PAHO estimated the inci-
dence of tuberculosis in Haiti in 1961 to be
94 per 100,000. In its Progress Report on
Tuberculosis Control in the Americas (1962),
information on the death rate from this disease
was lacking only for Haiti.
In the early 1940's, yaws, a debilitating, con-
tagious tropical disease, afflicted 60 to 70 per-
cent of the population. By 1962, however, this
disease had been practically eliminated, and
residual foci of infection will be eliminated in

the near future, if present programs are con-
tinued, according to PAHO's 1962 annual re-
port. This "colossal success" (to quote a
Haitian Government report) was due to
campaigns begun in 1942 by the American
Health Mission under the auspices of the In-
stitute of Inter-American Affairs (precursor
in Latin America of ICA and AID), and con-
tinued after 1950 under a tripartite agreement
between the Government of Haiti, the World
Health Organization, and the United Nations
International Children's Emergency Fund.
Contributory to the incidence of disease in
Haiti are poor sanitary conditions, inadequate
housing, malnutrition, and insufficient medical
personnel and facilities. The PAHO reported
in 1962 that Haiti was last among the American
Republics with respect to the number of homes
which had running water and had facilities for
sewage disposal. Of over 400,000 housing units
in four departments outside Port-au-Prince,
approximately 95 percent, according to 1950
census data, were dependent on spring, canal, or
river water for drinking as well as for other
uses. In 4 percent, the occupants used a public
fountain; less than 1 percent had water piped to
their homes. Ninety-four percent of these
homes were without toilet facilities of any
kind; 4 percent had outhouses, and 2 percent
had indoor facilities.
In Port-au-Prince, this census showed that
out of almost 33,000 housing units, about 42
percent had water piped into their homes and
in 48 percent the occupants had the use of a
public fountain. In about 10 percent, no pro-
vision was made for water. About 79 percent
had outhouses and 4 percent had indoor
facilities, while nearly 17 percent had no toilet
Seventy-five percent of the dwellings in
Haiti are 1-2 room structures, each housing
an average of 4 to 5 persons. Construction
varies with the section of the country. On some
mountain slopes rural dwellings are built of
wood; in the valleys and plains, rural housing
is mostly mud-walled with a clay floor and a
thatched roof. In some villages, two story
houses have been observed, one room on top of

the other in imitation of urban dwellings. The
peasant often sleeps on mats made of banana
leaves. Where family finances allow a bed, it
is usually made of four posts driven into the
ground, bearing a straw or cotton mattress on
wooden slats. In Port-au-Prince, most homes
are of wood or cement construction, ranging
from immense houses to the waterfront hovels
of the La Saline slum. In older houses, windows
are furnished with solid wooden shutters on the
outside and slatted shutters on the inside. In
the city, much of the cooking is done with
charcoal in a separate kitchen; in the rural
areas, over an open fire in the yard.
The Government provides some low-rent
housing in urban areas, through its Workers
Housing Administration (OACO), attached to
the Department of Labor and Social Welfare.
About 67 percent of the monthly rental is
credited toward purchase price; the remainder
is used by OACO for overhead and repairs. The
first of these worker cities was constructed at
Cap Haitien but, according to OACO, it was
inadequate in every respect. Two other develop-
ments, called the Cit6s St. Martin I and II, were
completed during Magloire's term of office in
the early 1950's. The Duvalier administration
has erected housing in a development at Vareux
not far from Port-au-Prince, which consists of
single-family dwellings and 2-unit apartment
houses. No information has been found on the
number of units provided in these four housing
Despite the state of housing generally in
Haiti, shelter costs have risen more than any
other major consumption item.
The diet of most of the population is inade-
quate and not well balanced. There is extreme
daily and seasonal irregularity in food supply,
a predominance of carbohydrates and insuf-
ficiency of proteins, and, in Paul Moral's words,
the provision of food has a "preponderant and
even tyrannical place" in the rural Haitian
family economy. Few peasants can afford to
raise food entirely for their own consumption,
so the choicest produce goes to market as a
cash crop. It is estimated that the rural popula-
tion averages somewhat less than 1,500 calories

per capital each day." The peasant's morning
meal is sketchy-a little coffee and a tapioca
biscuit, perhaps. No lunch is prepared, and a
mixed pot of whatever the garden yields usual-
ly makes the evening meal. Travelers to Haiti
have commented that it is common to see the
school child carrying his lunch-a stalk of
sugarcane-over his shoulder. Pilfering
("picorage")-a fruit picked by the wayside or
a bit of sugarcane cut in a field-provides a
significant dietary element which defies statis-
tical analysis. Statistics on the makeup of
the Haitian diet and on the proportion of the
family budget that goes for food are fragmen-
tary and conflicting. Studies based on various
samplings, published from 1951 to 1957, give
percentages of the family budget spent for food
varying from 34.8 percent for urban salaried
workers to 66.6 percent for rural workers.
There are no available statistics on the dietary
habits and expenditures of city slum dwellers.
A report by the Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO), based on observations
made in 1955, describes the general nutritional
situation :12
The very prevalent malnutrition is due to the fact
not only that the peasant is ignorant of the principles
of a healthy and balanced diet, but also that the food
products available to him are often in insufficient quan-
tities. As a result, for lack of appropriate nourishment,
he is incapable of the physical effort required for the
indispensable care of his animals and his fields. [It is
necessary to admit] the gravity of the malnutrition
among children as well as among adults, and among
urban as well as rural populations.
Insufficient knowledge of basic, elementary agricul-
tural practices, combined with a limitation of effort
caused by a chronic undernourishment, appear clearly
as the principal causes of the present situation of the
rural population of Haiti.
It has been said of the Haitian agricultural
worker that he never really starves but is never
really fed, either. According to Moral, how-
ever, death from starvation is not unknown in
the countryside (Moral, Paysan, p. 217).
11 Paul Moral. L'Economie Haitienne, pp. 42-43. Recent estimates
of daily calorie consumption per capital in some other countries
are: Brazil, 1.640; Honduras, 2,200. Cf. ILO Yearbook of Labor
Statistics, 1961, p. 466. Haiti does not appear in the ILO tabulation.
The average daily requirement of young people in warm climate
has been calculated to be 1,950 calories; see Annales de la nutrition
et de l'alimentation (Paris, Centre National de Recherche Scien-
tifique, 1957, vol. IX, No. 2.), pp. 53 ff.
12 Translated from Rapport au Gouvernement d'Haiti sur l'En-
seignement Menager (Organization des Nations Unies pour l'Ali-
mentacion et L'Agriculture, Rome, 1949), p. 3.

Haiti has the most acute shortage in all the
Americas of physicians and of hosptial beds.
In 1957, according to PAHO, it had only one
physician per 10,000 population, and 0.5 beds
in general hospitals per 1,000 population. There
were 1.6 physicians per 10,000 in Guatemala;
2.1 in Honduras; and 5.7 in Mexico. There were
2.5 beds in general hospitals per 1,000 in Guate-
mala; 1.7 in Honduras; and (in 1958, exclusive
of private hospitals) 1.2 in Mexico.
There are a number of Government health
agencies. The Central Administration of the
Public Health Service in Port-au-Prince is
under the Secretary of State for Public Health,
appointed by the President of the Republic.
The Secretary is assisted by a Director-General,
who coordinates the activities of the three main
divisions: Public Assistance, Public Health,
and Rural Medicine. The Division of Public
Assistance maintains 11 general hospitals and
6 special hospitals, with a total of 2,137 beds,
and a staff which, as of 1956, included 138
physicians, 240 nurses, and 230 technicians.
The Division of Public Health includes three
international liaison units and nine urban
health centers, five of which are in Port-au-
Prince. In 1956, its staff consisted of 48 physi-
cians, 20 dentists, 3 sanitary engineers, 73
nurses and midwives, and 258 pharmacists,
sanitary police, and health inspectors. The
Division of Rural Medicine supervised 7 rural
health units (each with 20 hospital beds), 3
health centers, 36 rural dispensaries, and 125
rural clinics. Its staff included 51 physicians
(8 of whom worked on the administrative
staff), 6 dentists, 10 nurses, 28 officers and in-
spectors, and 207 auxiliary personnel. In 1962,
a project for rural medicine was discussed and
a pilot project planned.
The national health services budget for
1958-59 was reported to be approximately 19
million gourdes (US$3.8 million), or 55 gourdes
(US$1.10) per capital. This was one of the
lowest per capital expenditures for health serv-
ices in 17 American countries for which data
have been tabulated.13
13 Summary of Four-Year Reports on Health Conditions in the
Americas. 1957-60 (PAHO and WHO, Washington, July 1962), p.
65. The per capital expenditure for health of Haiti was the next
to lowest listed, but the figures for Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Peru
included expenditures for social security, and the figures for differ-
ent countries are for different dates, varying from 1958-59 to
1960-61; hence, they are not strictly comparable.

The concentration of hospitals, doctors,
nurses and laboratory facilities is mainly at
Port-au-Prince. The General Hospital there is
used as a teaching facility for the University
of Haiti. There is also a new 25-room private
hospital (Canape Vert) which provides all
hospital services, and all Haitian doctors are
allowed to practice there. Besides the hospitals
and health centers administered by the Public
Health Service, there are clinics in the rural
areas maintained by church or international
health missions. One of these has undertaken
improvements in the public health hospital at
JRr6mie; and the new 50-room Albert
Schweitzer Hospital in the Artibonite Valley
(the gift of William Mellon, Jr., to be operated
by the Grant Foundation) has been completed.
The Social Insurance Institute (IDASH) main-
tains its own hospital, clinic, laboratory and
other services, largely devoted to work ac-
In spite of some increase in attention to rural
health problems, medical officers of the central
health administration for the most part are
trained for hospital service only, and take less
interest in rural problems. Most of the ad-
ministrators of the health districts are surgeons
and doctors-in-chief of the hospitals. They con-
tinue in private practice, since their salaries are
inadequate; for this reason-all the more com-
pelling because of transportation difficulties
and the lack of reimbursement for travel ex-
penses-they prefer to remain at their urban
home stations. Although their instructions re-
quire Public Health rural doctors to visit the
rural clinics and dispensaries, the visiting is

seldom done.14 The rural clinics and dis-
pensaries lack regular supervision. According
to a United Nations mission appraisal in 1949,
"in the rural areas the Public Health Depart-
ment has not proved equal to its task" (U.N.,
Mission to Hati, p. 66).
In isolated areas, voodoo priests (houngans)
with their knowledge of herbs and traditional
remedies, are much revered. Some of the rem-
edies used by them are bottled and sold at
roadside stands. Others are used in secret to
the accompaniment of incantations invoking
the intercession of a god or spirit. Thus magic
and medicine become intertwined in the rural
areas. There is, however, no evidence that
even the most isolated rural people have any
superstitions that interfere with the use of
modern medical techniques.
Eight projects for improving health condi-
tions in Haiti were being sponsored in 1961 by
the Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO), some of them with the collaboration
of AIEL, UNICEF, or FAO. These projects in-
cluded yaws and m. i eradication, a public
health laboratory, fellowships for study in
public health administration, public health
services, medical education, nutrition, a.d pro-
motion of community water supplies.. Some
of these projects are well advanced, but others
have not gone beyond the planning stage.
14 In the rural areas, 130 clinics and dispensaries treated 200,000
to 250,000 cases per year, according to a 1959 report. These facil-
ities were irregularly scattered through the country. In the North,
there were 31 serving a rural population of 465,000 people; in the
Northwest, 9 clinics served 155,000 people; in the Artibonite, 23
clinics served 520,000 persons; the West had 42 rural clinics for
its 900,000 population and the South had 28 for 670,000 rural
people. In consequence, some rural families had to travel as much
as 90 miles for treatment. Cf. Paul Moral, L'Economie Haitienne;
p. 43.


Chapter V. Government

Constitutional Summary
Haiti was first established as a republic in
1806. Since then, Haiti has had at least 13 con-
stitutions-more than 20, if various basic laws
modifying or restoring prior constitutions are
counted. It has been customary for each in-
coming government to enact a new basic law
tailored to its own goals. The present constitu-
tion, replacing that of 1950, was adopted on
December 22, 1957.15
This Constitution proclaims that national
sovereignty resides in the people, and that
Haiti is a democratic and representative re-
public. National and regional elections are
scheduled (but not always held) every 6 years
to elect the President, the legislature, and the
communal councils. All citizens 21 years of age
and over are eligible to vote. The right of
women to vote and to hold office was established
for the first time by the 1957 Constitution.
Constitutional guarantees include freedom of
speech, of religion, and of peaceful assembly.
No political party is outlawed by the Constitu-
tion. The death sentence cannot be pronounced
for political reasons except in case of treason.
No one can be sued or arrested except in con-
formity with law. The right to hold property is
guaranteed to citizens, but property entails
obligations; its use must be in the general in-
terest. Expropriation of private property is
permitted by the Constitution only if public
need is proved and fair, and prior compensation
given. Ex post facto laws are forbidden, except
in penal matters when the outcome would be
favorable to the delinquent.
Aliens may acquire citizenship after 10 years
of continuous residence in Haitian territory,
and exercise political rights 5 years later. Ac-
quired citizenship is automatically lost by 3
15 For the text of the 1957 Constitution. see Le Moniteur (the
official gazette), Numdro Extraordinaire, December 22, 1957.

years of continuous residence outside the coun-
try. A foreigner's right to own property is
circumscribed; that is, he may own one resi-
dence and whatever land or improved property
is required for his business or occupation. A
foreigner may also acquire land in the public
domain for development or agricultural cul-
tivation, provided that he undertake any pub-
lic improvements required, such as docks, irri-
gation ditches, and roads. Such improvements
revert to State ownership after 15 years.
The executive, legislative, and judicial
branches of the Government are independent
of each other and their powers cannot be ex-
ceeded or delegated, according to one provision
of the Constitution. Another passage provides,
however, that the President can temporarily
dispense with the legislature, if that body votes
to grant him full powers.
Executive power is vested in the President,
elected for a 6-year term,16 who must be
Haitian-born, at least 40 years old, resident in
the country, and a property owner. He receives
an annual salary equivalent to 120,000 gourdes
(US$24,000). To stand for election, an aspirant
for the presidency must renounce any govern-
ment position he may hold.
The executive branch of the Government in-
cludes the Departments (Dipartements Mini-
st&riels) of Finance, Public Works, Labor and
Social Welfare, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs,
National Education, Commerce and Industry,
Tourism, Justice, Coordination and Informa-
tion, Interior and National Defense, Cults (Re-
ligion), and Public Health. By far the largest
are the Departments of Education and of Public
Health, which together have 10,000 employees.
16 The present incumbent, after a reelection held under extra-
constitutional procedures, was inaugurated for another 6-year term
on May 22, 1961-2 years before the expiration of his first term.
The 1957 Constitution does not repeat the explicit prohibition of
reelection which was part of the 1950 Constitution.

These agencies are large because the central
Government hires and pays teachers, principals,
nurses, and doctors in the public schools, clinics,
and hospitals of the country. The Departments
of Justice, and Public Works (whose employees
include telephone and telegraph operators), are
the next largest in number of employees. The
other departments are relatively small.
The law-making power is vested in a uni-
cameral legislature. The Constitution initially
provided for 67 members. Decision as to the
number of citizens each Deputy should repre-
sent was left to the Legislature. In 1962, there
were fewer than 60 members. The legislature
meets for 3 months each year and is subject to
recall by the President. It has the constitutional
right to override a presidential veto, or it may,
as stated above, grant the President full powers
for a fixed period. A member of the legislature
must be Haitian, at least 25 years old, and a
resident for at least 5 years of the area he repre-
sents. He may not be an owner or representa-
tive of a firm holding a contract with, or conces-
sion from, the Government. A Deputy receives
the equivalent of 2,000 gourdes (US$400) a
month. The only government jobs he may hold
concurrently with his elected term are as head
of a Cabinet Department, or as an Ambassador,
and while holding either of these positions he
is not eligible to vote in the Legislature.
Judicial power is exercised by various courts
whose judges are appointed by the President.
The Court of Cassation, which sits in Port-au-
Prince, is the highest court in the land. Its six
judges and their three substitutes are appointed
by the President of the Republic for 10-year
terms. The Court of Cassation rules on the con-
stitutionality of actions of the lower courts.
There are four Courts of Appeal whose judges
are also appointed by the President for 10-year
terms. These courts sit at Port-au-Prince, Cap
Haitian, GonYaves, and Les Cayes. Thirteen
Civil Courts hear criminal as well as civil cases.
There is one such court at Port-au-Prince and
at each of the port cities. The lowest courts,
about 146 in number, are scattered throughout
the country. They are presided over by Justices
of the Peace, appointed by the President of
the Republic. They try many kinds of cases,
criminal, civil, and commercial. Attached to
these courts are officials who register births,

deaths, and other vital statistics. A Land Court
(Tribunal Terrien) at Port-au-Prince deter-
mines land claims. Labor Courts to hear cases
relating to violations of the Labor Code, and to
juvenile courts, are provided for by law, but
neither labor nor juvenile courts were operative
as of April 1963. The Army maintains its own
Military Court.
The Constitution of 1957 divided the country
into nine departments (Departements du Nord,
du Nord-Est, du Nord-Ouest, de L'Artibonite,
du Centre, de'Ouest, du Sud-Est, du Sud, and
de la Grande Anse). The Government, however,
continues to adhere to the previous five depart-
ments (Nord-Ouest, Nord, L'Artibonite, Ouest,
and Sud). The D6partements are subdivided
into Arrondissements, which in turn are sub-
divided into Communes. A Commune without
sufficient revenue to maintain a separate admin-
istration may be attached to an adjacent Com-
mune, whereupon it becomes a Quartier. The
rural sections are the smallest administrative
Control by the central Government over these
administrative divisions and subdivisions is en-
sured by the Constitution, and established by
practice. Appointed prefects, who serve as the
President's personal representatives, admin-
ister the Departments and the Arrondissements.
Arrondissement Councils, appointed by the
President and presided over by the prefects., su-
pervise the Communal Councils. These Arron-
dissement Councils, in the language of the Con-
stitution, "take care of the political, administra-
tive, economic, social, and cultural interests
of the Communes which they supervise" (art.
133). On the other hand, the Constitution de-
clares the Communes to be "autonomous"
(autonome)-without defining the meaning and
scope of this term-and provides that they shall
elect their Councils. In practice, however,
President Duvalier also fills vacancies in these
Councils by appointment; communal elections,
when and if held, have lost practical signifi-
cance. The Constitution provides also that
Technical Sub-Councils shall be appointed by
the President to assist each elected Communal
Council, but such Sub-Councils are not known
to exist.
In the 554 rural sections, at the lowest admin-
istrative level, nevertheless, the dominant in-

fluence for all local affairs is that of the local
leader. (See section on Social Structure.)

Labor Legislation
The Constitution guarantees a number of
workers' rights: The right to labor union activ-
ity, including collective bargaining; fair wages;
completion of apprenticeship; protection of
health; social security; family welfare ("to the
degree corresponding to the economic devel-
opment of the country") ; and paid annual vaca-
tions. The basic law establishes the general
right of freedom to work, and at the same time
warns that this freedom is not unlimited.
"Freedom to work," it declares, "is exercised
under the supervision and surveillance of the
State, and is conditioned by the Law" (art. 23).
The employer is placed under a "moral obliga-
tion" to contribute to the education of his illit-
erate workers.
In 1961, constitutional guarantees and laws
affecting labor were combined in a single Labor
Code, the Code du Travail Francois Duvalier,
named for the President of the Republic. This
Code, which is detailed and specific, made sev-
eral changes in previous existing laws. Its new
provisions made collective bargaining and a col-
lective contract compulsory when two-thirds of
the workers are organized and request them;
prohibited employers from discharging work-
ers because of union membership (but declared
the closed shop illegal) ; and provided for com-
pulsory arbitration procedures. The General
Directorate of Labor is the enforcing agency.
It enters into contract negotiations as a third
party, and maintains a record of agreements.
Labor unions must report any information re-
quired by the Secretary of Labor, provided the
information concerns union activities.
Labor organizations and labor-management
relations are closely supervised and controlled
by the Haitian Government. One Haitian writer
(Frangois Latortue, Le Droit du Travail en
Haiti, p. 135) says "The constitution of a union
does not depend on the permission of the Gov-
ernment, it is true. But given the youth of the
trade union movement in our country, the igno-
rance and illiteracy of the great majority of
members, which opens the door to a new form
of exploitation of labor, the legislator has

deemed it necessary to subject union activity
to the control of the General Directorate of
Labor in certain measure. It has even invested
the Secretary of Labor with the power to sus-
pend a union's activities if it is established that
the organization has indulged in unlawful acts
against persons or property." (See section on
Labor Unions.)
The Labor Code also contains regulations on
the employment of minors. Children 12 years
of age and over may be employed outside of
school hours in light, nonindustrial work, up to
2 hours a day, subject to restrictions designed
to protect their health. Between 14 and 18 years
of age, children are required to obtain work
permits approved by parents or guardians or
by the magistrate of the commune or the justice
of the peace in the place where they live. Em-
ployed minors over 14 years old must be free
during the school day to pursue their education,
unless they have primary school certificates.
Minors under 16 are not permitted to work in
hotels, pensions, restaurants, or clubs. Employ-
ers of children under 14 years of age in domestic
service must obtain special work permits, an-
nually renewed until the children attain the
age of 18 years. Work assigned to such chil-
dren must not be beyond their physical capacity,
nor interfere with their education. From the
age of 16 years, children in domestic service are
considered as apprentices and must receive at
least half the wage paid to adults for similar
domestic work.
The Haitian Labor Code regulates the con-
ditions under which foreign labor may be em-
ployed. Foreign labor in any Haitian establish-
ment may not exceed 5 percent of the perma-
nent employees, whatever the nationality of the
employer. Exceptions to this rule are made in
cases of proven necessity. The General Direc-
torate of Labor issues special work permits to
foreign workers, provided the employer can
show he cannot recruit the specific skills from
among Haitian workers and provided also that
the foreign worker will teach his skills to
Haitian beginners. These permits are renewed
annually over a period not exceeding 5 years
for a given worker. A special tax is levied on
foreign workers, which amounts to one-half of
1 month's pay per year. These conditions do
not apply to foreigners who have lived in Haiti

10 years, or who have married a Haitian citizen,
nor to foreign labor hired under the terms of a
contract with the State.
Variations in the enforcement of labor laws
have been reported, but they do not necessarily
reflect a distinction between native and for-
eign employer. The present Government has,
indeed, offered concessions in the effort to at-
tract new industrial and agricultural invest-
ment from abroad, among them major tax and
customs exceptions for the first 5 years.17 How-
ever, foreigners may engage in commerce only
in the 12 ports of entry of the Republic and the
license fee required of foreign business is double
that imposed on Haitian firms. Enforcement is
more practicable against large enterprises and
urban enterprises; nearly all foreign firms are
large, and most of them are both large and
Enforcement against the employer with few
employees is practically nonexistent. Since this
type of employer is by far the most numerous,
it is probable that less than 50 percent of all the
employees in the country benefit by the pro-
visions of the Labor Code. The provisions of
the code relating to agricultural workers are
enforced only against the large sugar and sisal
enterprises. No minimum wages for agricul-
tural workers, contemplated by article 461 of
the code, had been established as of April
1963. The provisions respecting homework and
also those respecting domestic service are not
generally observed. On the other hand, the
exertion of special influence by employers to
effect a favorable interpretation of the law or
to evade the law is infrequent.18
With respect to work by Haitian labor in
other countries, the law requires that laborers
be provided round trip transportation, neces-
sities of life including shelter and food, and
medical care and hospitalization, all at the cost
of the employer.
Many of the provisions of the Labor Code re-
sult from the 21 ILO conventions on labor
standards which Haiti has ratified. In 1962,
17 Revised Law on New Industries, Le Moniteur, Numero Extraor-
dinaire, September 9, 1960. This law has not always been observed
in practice, but its policy was reaffirmed in President Duvalier's
message to the legislature on April 16, 1962.
18 The substance of this paragraph was confirmed by Dr. Francois
Latortue, former professor of labor legislation in the University of
Haiti, and former employee of the Department of Labor and Social

however, an ILO report noted t',. i nadequcy of
the provisions of the Haitian Labor Code for
ensuring compliance with ratified conventions
on hours of work, minimum age, sickness in-
surance in industry and agriculture, workmen's
compensation for occupational diseases, and
labor inspection. On the other hand, the report
noted also the conformity of the terms of the
Labor Code with two conventions on workmen's
compensation for accidents. Haiti sent no dele-
gation to the 1962 International Labor Con-
ference, and apparently made no response to
the request to supply that Conference with par-
ticulars respecting its observation of ILO con-
Since the Haitian Labor Code was framed
to protect and regulate industrial workers
and wage earning agricultural workers, and
since the majority of Haiti's working popula-
tion consists of self-employed peasant farmers,
only about 12 percent of the employed popula-
tion-those engaged in wage-earning activities
-are directly affected by it. The high incidence
of illiteracy in the work force makes it doubt-
ful that even these workers understand their
rights under the code. The industrial relations
system envisioned by the Labor Code assumes
that the parties involved are on an equal foot-
ing but historic patterns in Haiti do not support
such an assumption. Collective bargaining is
largely ineffective so long as unions are small,
poor, and dependent on the State. Further-
more, the requirements of the code are too ad-
vanced and complex for the elementary Haitian
economic system. Enforcement is thus left
largely to the discretion of the Secretary of
Labor who makes ad hoc decisions tailored to
the specific situation. (See section on Industrial
Relations.) Many sections of the code, there-
fore, such as provisions for medical care of all
employees, for example, are merely a statement
of desirable goals toward which employers
should work.
Nevertheless, the Haitian Labor Code is con-
sidered by both management and labor to be a
step forward in the field of labor relations.

Agencies and Tribunals Concerned With Labor
The governmental units directly concerned
with labor matters (except labor courts and the
courts which function in lieu of labor courts)
are parts of the Department of Labor and Social


/Technical Council




- Migration,


Welfare. The administrative structure of this
Department, as described by the 1961 Labor
Code, is highly elaborate. It embraces three
units on the administrative level immediately
below the Office of Secretary, 3 technical coun-
cils, 10 divisions, 25 services (one of which has
3 dependent units), and 2 semiautonomous or-
ganizations, viz, the Haitian Institute of Social
Insurance (IDASH) and the Workers Housing
Administration (OACO). As of April 1963,
however, not all of these units had yet come
into existence, as indicated on chart 2. Some
units shown on the chart consist of only one
or two employees. The 1961-62 budget for the
Department called for 116 employees (exclusive
of IDASH and OACO), or approximately 2.4
employees per unit. Nevertheless, the descrip-
tions of the organization, jurisdiction, and re-
sponsibilities of these numerous administrative
units together constitute a declaration of intent,
which touches on manifold aspects of the organi-
zation and welfare of the working population.

Source; Based on,Code du Travail Francois Duvalier(1961] Appendix.

The enumeration of the responsibilities of
the Secretary of State for Labor and Social
Welfare begins with a sweeping general state-
ment of his obligations: "to watch over the
freedom of work;" to ensure protection of the
worker as well as harmony between capital and
labor; to provide social security; to fight unem-
ployment, poverty, and illiteracy; and to im-
prove the living conditions of the working class.
The main subdivisions of the Department
are the General Directorate of Labor and the
Institute of Social Welfare and Research
(IHBESR). Also directly responsible to the
Secretary is the Higher Wage Board.
The General Directorate of Labor, whose first
organization dates from 1946, maintains a cen-
tral office at Port-au-Prince and 10 regional
offices in the 9 other seaports and in the town
of Trou. It has three substantive divisions be-
sides an Administrative Division. The Labor
Division is responsible for the enforcement of

Units not functioning as of April 1963. .
1/ The functions of the General Directorate of Labor have been performed since 1961
by the Under Secretary of State for Labor and Social Welfare.
2/ These two services in practice constitute one section .
3/ IDASH and OACO are listed as dependencies of the Division of Social Security (Labor Code,
Appendix, Art. 29); also as directly dependent on the Institute of Social Welfare, organizationally
on a par with the 6 divisions thereof (Art. 27). Both have a certain measure of autonomy, and in,
practice depend chiefly pr only on the Secretary of State.

labor laws, and it maintains the Inspection
Service for this purpose. Labor inspectors
are authorized to visit places of employment
at will and to inspect company records. Their
reports of law infractions are accepted as fac-
tual unless proven otherwise in court. The
Inspection Service, as provided for in the 1961-
62 budget, had a total of 54 employees including
the Chief. Most of these were administrative
personnel attached to office headquarters, and
less than half (20 to 25) were inspectors re-
sponsible for visiting places of employment.
According to the Revue du Travail, this limited
staff made 3,289 visits of inspection between
October 1959 and September 1960 (1,870 in
Port-au-Prince and its environs, and 1,419 in
or near the 10 cities where regional offices are
maintained), and reported 222 violations. The
Training Division is responsible for apprentice-
ship and "the acquirement of professional
capabilities" (formation professionelle). The
Employment Service of the Manpower Division

conducts a very limited operation and has little
more than a nominal existence.
The Institute of Social Welfare and Research
has four substantive divisions in operation (be-
sides an Administrative Division), with numer-
ous subsidiary units. It is the agency which
administers social insurance. (See section on
Social Insurance.)
The Service of Family and Disaster Relief
is charged with giving aid to needy families;
helping victims of fires, floods, and cyclones;
and providing financial aid to needy but intel-
lectually outstanding students. The National
Center for Commune Development has the re-
sponsibility of "coordinating national policy
in the domain of commune activity," a respon-
sibility which includes coordination of the activ-
ities of both public and private organizations,
preparation of budgets for welfare projects
within the communes, and administering the
funds allocated.

Two organizations of the Division of Social
Security, IDASH and OACO, enjoy a certain
degree of autonomy; each is governed by a
tripartite administrative council (consisting of
representatives of Government, employers, and
labor) which is appointed by the President of
the Republic and presided over by the Director
General of IHBESR. IDASH is authorized by
law to administer work-accident, health, and
maternity insurance; but it administered only
accident insurance, as of April 1963. OACO,
whose creation antedates the Labor Code by
10 years, is charged with the administration of
a program of low-cost housing, designed for
persons with incomes under 500 gourdes
(US$100) a month, with residents' payments
credited toward purchase price.
The Laboratories and Nutrition Division,
according to the Labor Code, is to maintain a
medical laboratory, a radiography service, and
a dietetic laboratory, and to provide free labo-
ratory tests and radiographs and other serv-
ices; but this unit had not yet come into exist-
ence, as of April 1963.
The Higher Wage Board is a tripartite body
consisting of two representatives each of the
Department of Labor and Social Welfare, of
employers and of workers, all appointed by the
President of the Republic. Employer and
worker organizations submit panels from which
their representatives are selected. The Depart-
ment may institute local tripartite Wage
Boards, which report directly to the Higher
Board. The main function of the Higher Wage
Board is to submit recommendations for mini-
mum wages in commerce, industry and agricul-
ture throughout the Republic. (See section on
Base Pay.) According to the law, wages can-
not be fixed at less than the "minimum living
wage" (salaire minimum vital, Labor Code,
App., art 39). These minimum wages, once
they are approved by the Secretary of the De-
partment of Labor and Social Welfare, and pub-
lished in the official gazette of the Republic, have
the force of law. Management-labor agreements
on wages below the established minimum are
illegal. Employers who fail to observe legal
minimum wages are liable to fine, and upon
repetition of the offense, to imprisonment.
Labor courts are the subject of Chapter VI
of the Labor Code, which authorizes the Presi-

dent to determine their number, composition,
and scope of jurisdiction. Such courts, how-
ever, had not been created as of April 1963. In
their absence, existing courts (see section on
Government) can sit as labor courts. The law
provides for free legal aid to workers, on
request to the Director General of the Labor
Bureau. Government employees of all cate-
gories are explicitly excluded from the jurisdic-
tion of labor courts.
The proliferation of administrative units
reflects the theoretical character of the Haitian
system of labor agencies and laws. The labor
laws codified in 1961 were inspired by inter-
national standards and many were based on
recommendations submitted in 1944 by experts
of the ILO in response to a request made the
previous year by the Haitian Government.
These laws are not the outgrowth of a long
empirical evolution in Haiti; but they, and the
administrative structure designed for their en-
forcement, show the thoughtful effort of Hai-
tian legislators and of the framers of the Labor

Public Administration
In its struggle to achieve stable public ad-
ministration, Haiti has had to contend with
extreme difficulties. From a colonial adminis-
tration based on slavery it inherited no tradi-
tions or mechanisms of free government. Inde-
pendence in 1804 was followed by an almost
continuous series of revolutions, and lea.iership
much of the time by military men without
administrative training. Since 1941, Haiti has
had four periods of domination by military
juntas, and seven presidents, all of whom, up
to the present incumbent, were overthrown by
revolution or otherwise expelled from office.
Political parties have been primarily groupings
around a personal leader. This circumstance,
and the lack of a merit system, have tended to
create a civil service consisting solely of the
personal followers of the President. The stabil-
ity of Government employment, therefore, has
been subject to administration changes.
The dominance of the executive branch in
the Government, and particularly of the Presi-
dent, is ensured by the system of prefects, or
personal representatives of the President, in
every ministry and geographical department.

(See section on Constitutional Summary.) The
1961-. C2 budget provided 492,000 gourdes
(U. S,-100) for 103 jobs in the Prefect Serv-
icE. The administration of the current Presi-
dent is further bolstered by a civilian militia
with police powers. Over 30 million gourdes
(US$6 million)-26 percent of. the budget-
was assigned for the Army. Public administra-
tion is influenced by the President's power to
rule by decree when granted full powers by the
legislature, and by the possibility that regula-
tions may change on short notice.
The total number of positions in public ad-
ministration provided for in the 1961-62 budget
was 13,830, exclusive of the Department of
Agriculture and the Armed Forces, for which
figures were not published with the rest of the
budget. This budget included 3,500 medical
personnel for Public Health, more than 3,000
school teachers and principals in the various
branches of public education, and nearly the
same number of elementary parochial school
personnel. For the Department of Labor and
Social Welfare, 116 jobs were provided, exclu-
sive of the social insurance and housing agen-
cies attached to that Department.
The State operates a number of public utili-
ties and monopolies not included in the budget-
ary figures presented for legislative approval.
They include an airline; ship repair yards;
water supply and canal service; a national
printing office; and monopolies for the distribu-
tion of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, and for
the domestic distribution of sugar and flour.

The National Bank of Haiti and the Bank of
the Haitian Agricultural and Credit Institute
also are Government agencies.
Government employment is highly regarded
in Haiti. Quite apart from the possibilities for
personal advancement it offers a shorter work-
day, which frees its employees for other part-
time employment. For years, government em-
ployment has been the prerogative of an elite
group, and it conveys an envied social status.
With the exception of the few large enterprises
in Haiti, it offers a higher salary scale than
private industry.
The law provides for retirement of Govern-
ment employees at half pay after 22 years of
service. The pensions are effective only by
Presidential decree, and are not automatically
payable on retirement. In 1960-61, there were
2,353 pensioners. The list of the pensioners
included in the 1961-62 budget indicate that
many of them are widows of armed services
personnel and not retired civil service em-
Coordination with Haitian officialdom has at
times presented problems for projects sup-
ported by international organizations. The
Artibonite Valley project, partially completed
with Development Loan Fund aid, had cost 175
million gourdes (US$35 million), instead of the
60 million gourdes (US$12 million) initially
estimated, before the Fund suspended disburse-
ments for this project in March 1960, charging
waste and favortism.

Chapter VI. Labor-Management Relations

Labor Unions
Before 1946, labor union activity was lim-
ited. For a meeting of more than 20 persons, a
Government permit was required and such
meetings were always attended by the police.
In that year of political upheaval, the right of
workers to organize was proclaimed in a new
constitution in language preserved in subse-
quent constitutions. Politics soon intruded into
the newly legalized labor unions of Haiti,
Latortue observed, because the workers, for the
most part illiterate, recruited politicians as sec-
retaries-general or as delegates (Droit du
Travail, p. 123).
The 1961 Labor Code (see section on Labor
Law) defines the rights and obligations of labor
organizations. A union may be organized either
by trade, by industry, by company, or by geo-
graphical area. Unions can merge to form a
new union, a federation, or a confederation.
To be recognized, a union must register with
the General Directorate of Labor within 60
working days of its formation, file a copy of its
bylaws with the Department of Labor and
Social Welfare, and report annually to the De-
partment on its membership and the makeup
of its executive board.
A duly registered union has the legal right
to apply its resources to low-cost housing,
health centers, press and radio activities, and
the acquisition of land for agricultural produc-
tion. It can create and administer welfare
funds, laboratories, educational facilities, hir-
ing halls, and cooperatives. There is, however,
no evidence that unions actually engage in any
of these activities.
The law requires that to be created, a labor
union have at least 15 members, all over 15
years of age. Administrative or managerial per-
sonnel, and persons in exile or serving sentence
for a crime are not eligible for membership. A
married woman needs the consent of her hus-
band to work, but she does not need his consent
to join a union or to hold office in it. A minor
between 15 and 18 years of age may join a
union, but cannot participate as an officer.
Management employees-directors, agents, ad-
ministrators, subcontractors, naval captains,
and others who function in the name of the

employer-can join neither a union nor a man-
agement group.
A union may call a strike or support a legal
strike called by another union or federation. To
be legal, a strike must be called by a group of
at least five workers, conciliation and mediation
procedures must have been exhausted, and a
48-hour strike notice given. A strike cannot
legally be called for political purposes or
directed against a public utility or the Govern-
A union can be suspended by the Department
of Labor and Social Welfare if it uses violence
against persons or property, if it intentionally
falsifies information to the Department of
Labor and Social Welfare, engages in commer-
cial or political activity (the Labor Code does
not consider cooperatives to be commercial ven-
tures) or "concerns itself with questions ir-
relevant to its purpose."
When a union is dissolved its assets may be
applied to purposes set forth in the bylaws,
be acquired by the federation with which it is
affiliated, or given to a charity of its own choice.
Its assets cannot be distributed among the
By 1948, according to a Haitian authority,
the young Haitian labor movement had grown
to a membership of over 18,000 in 80 unions.
Many of these unions, however, were no more
than coalitions formed to rectify a specific
grievance or for a special bargaining purpose,
and disbanded once the issue had been settled.
The following years witnessed an overall de-
cline in union membership in spite of periods of
resurgence, as indicated by the following tabu-

1948 --
1951 -- -
1952 ---
1954 ---
1955 --
1957 --
1960 ----

-- -- 18,000
----- --------- ---- 11,000
---- ------- --- -- -- -- 16,000
--- 10,500
--- 3,500
------ 8,300
1 14,000
-- -- ----- 6,000

I This figure is derived from Haitian official sources; there is no
explanation for the apparent discrepancy between it and the figures
for 1955 and 1960.

These figures, the best available, are from dif-
ferent sources and may not be comparable.
They may represent vaguely founded claims
or transitory affiliation rather than solid mem-
The reported 1960 membership was divided
among 20 unions. Seven of these, claiming a
total membership of 2,000, were made up of
Government workers. They included not only
employees of the local government and customs
house of Port-au-Prince, dockworkers of the
Port Authority, National Bank employees, and
teachers, but also commercial and industrial
workers in Government monopolies. (See sec-
tion on Management.)
If all of the 215,000 wage earners in private
enterprise and in government (as of 1950) in
Haiti were organized, union membership would
still affect less than 13 percent of the employed
population (approximately 1,705,000). Even of
the wage earner group, organized labor at its
peak membership included less than 10 percent
of the total.
A few unions in private industry were or-
ganized along craft lines, as of February 1963.
Most important of the craft unions were those
of the construction trades (bricklayers, car-
penters, and ironworkers), and of the chauf-
feur-guides who serve tourists. Also reported
were unions of tanners, sisal braiders, lime
burners, tailors, and butchers. Other unions
were organized along industrial lines across
plant boundaries: These unions included coffee
workers, carbonated beverage workers, laundry
workers, and hotel and restaurant workers.
The majority of Haitian unions, however, oper-
ated only in individual plants. The largest of
these one-company unions was the organization
of the workers employed by the principal sugar
producer in Haiti, with a claimed membership
of 1,000. Both of Haiti's mines (the bauxite
mine at Miragoane and the copper mine at
Terre Neuve) were organized. The work force
of a coffee exporter, a shoe factory, the Ameri-
can-managed electric light company, a flour mill
and a banana exporter also were organized.
Union organization is concentrated at Port-
au-Prince. Except for the mine workers, very
few have union headquarters elsewhere. The
largest unions in private enterprise are those

in foreign-owned enterprises and, for the most
part, comprise industrial workers. The single
union of commercial employees was reported
inactive in 1960. Agricultural workers are al-
most wholly unorganized. Sugar workers and
sisal workers in the processing plants of these
commodities are organized; the field workers
for the greater part are not, although a Union
of the Cane Cutters of the Cul-de-Sac Plain was
reported to exist in 1963. The Federation of
Workers and Peasants of Haiti (FOPH), in
spite of its name, contained no other union of
agricultural workers.
Several federations of labor have disappeared
from Haiti, or have been reduced to a shadowy
existence. The largest of these, the National
Union of Workers of Haiti (UNOH), was or-
ganized in 1951 and had eight affiliates, includ-
ing the dockworkers' and chauffeurs' unions.
UNOH affiliated in 1953 with the Interna-
tional Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) and the Inter-American Regional Or-
ganization of Workers (ORIT). In 1958, its
elected leaders were removed by the Government
and went into exile. They maintain offices in
New York and Caracas, and publish a periodi-
cal, L'Ouvrier Haitien. They are recognized by
ICFTU/ORIT as the legitimate leaders of
UNOH. In Haiti, the organization that in-
cludes the remnants of UNOH now bears a new
name, Federation of Workers and Peasants of
Haiti (FOPH). Four other federations have at
least a nominal existence. These are the Fed-
eration of Haitian Workers (FOH); the
Haitian Confederation of Workers (CHT) ; the
Haitian Confederation of Christian Trade
Unions (FHSC) ; and the organization known
as the Union Intersyndicale d'Haiti. FOPH and
CHT are pro-Government unions led by follow-
ers of President Duvalier. The former affilia-
tion of FHSC with the Latin American Federa-
tion of Christian Trade Unions (CLASC) has
been obstructed; Haitian delegates to the IV
CLASC Congress at Caracas in November 1962
were refused permission to leave the country.
No union or federation in Haiti today has an
active, overt international affiliation, although
the Intersyndicale, reportedly the largest of
existing federations, follows the Communist
Party line.

The International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions, meeting in Brussels in 1959,
heard this statement from the former general
secretary of UNOH:
Item 15 on the Agenda, dealing with the struggle for
trade union rights is of special interest to the Haitian
workers . in Haiti the problem and the difficulties
arise purely and simply through the negation of consti-
tutional guarantees and from the total control exercised
over the right to run a free trade union.19
A statement in an ORIT publication in 1961
to the effect that Haitian organized labor is
under the control of a "classic militarist dicta-
torship,"20 provoked a rejoinder in the form of
a manifesto signed by the leaders of all major
Haitian labor organizations which declared that
Haitian unionism enjoyed the most complete
independence. In the same year, however, Dr.
Latortue wrote in Droit du Travail (p. 135)
that in Haiti the "independence of unionism
vis-a-vis the State is, on the whole, relative."
The Government's right of intervention in
labor-management affairs was strengthened by
the Labor Code. (See section on Labor Legis-
lation.) Moreover, the Secretary of Labor can
refer disputes to arbitration without the con-
sent of the parties involved; and he can sup-
press a strike if he holds it to be against the
national interest. In 1955, the Government
broke a strike of chauffeur-guides by jailing
strikers and by maintaining transportation by
means of official vehicles so that the tourist
trade would not be inconvenienced. Since that
time, the chauffeur-guides have become support-
ers of the present Government and are reported
to enjoy greater latitude than other organized
workers in their labor-management relations.
After a political strike of students in 1960,
most labor unions published statements express-
ing solidarity with the Government.
Labor unions in Haiti have no programs of
vocational training, they exercise no control
over the entry of additional manpower into
given occupations and little, if any, control over
the occupational qualifications of their mem-
19 International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Report of
the Sixth World Congress, Brussels, 1959, p. 453.
20 ORIT, Inter-American Labor Bulletin, May 1, 1961.

Although in some respects the Haitian econo-
my is free rather than managed--e. g., free con-
vertibility of currency, few licensing require..
ments-the position of management is affected
by a trend toward increasing Government con-
trols. An official of the Haitian Department of
Labor and Social Welfare, reviewing the posi-
tion of employers under the Labor Code, ob-
served in May 1961 that they are charged by
the Government with "a whole series of obli-
gations that are characterized by tighter con-
trols on methods of production and a more
powerful intervention by the State in the in-
ternal affairs of the enterprise ."
The Government monopolies for the distribu-
tion of tobacco, matches, essential oils, sugar,
flour, and cement are usually limited in practice
to the collection of a fee (in effect a tax) upon
the distribution of these commodities made by
private management.
Since labor is for the most part represented
by companywide unions, collective bargaining
is rarely on an industrywide basis and there is
little pressure on management to organize in
order to deal with labor. There are no associa-
tions of businessmen organized for that express
purpose. Port-au-Prince has a Chamber of
Commerce, and an International Club of Com-
merce. No local arm of the U. S. Chamber oper-
ates among the American businessmen in Haiti.

Industrial Relations
Disputes over wages, hours, and working
conditions present the major problems of labor-
management relations in Haiti. Matters re-
lating to job security, retirement, welfare plans,
and training have thus far not gained equal
Wages were the subject of over half the
individual grievances reported by the Concilia-
tion and Arbitration Service for 11 cities in the
period 1958-60. (See table 10.) Another 11
percent of the grievances reported in this period
involved annual leave; the latter arose in many
cases because of the legal prohibition against
accumulating leave from one year to another.
Such grievances come to the attention of the
Conciliation Service when an employee is dis-

charged or resigns and wishes to claim payment
for annual leave which he did not take during
his employment. The Bureau has noted that
workers often fear to complain about loss of
leave while employed, "hoping thus to evade
reprisals that would deprive them of work"
(Revue du Travail, May 1961, p. 108). Over-
time problems, the cause of about 2 percent of
the grievances reported, are often the result of
the employer's neglect to maintain clear records
on base salary and payments due for overtime.
In grievances of this kind, as the General Direc-
torate of Labor has only the payroll records on
which to establish overtime, injustices may

11 CITIES,1 1958-60
Subject of grievance Number Percent

All grievances ...- --- 8,760 100.0
Wages ------ --- 4,711 53.8
Paid leave 937 10.7
Advance notice before dismissal
or suspension 813 9.3
Overtime --------- 183 2.1
Night work 153 1.7
Other2--- -- 1,963 22.4

1 Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, Les Cayes, St. Marc, Gonfives,
Port-de-Paix, Jacmel, Jdr6mie, Fort Libert6, Trou, and Petit Goave.
2 Source gives no breakdown except for Port-au-Prince in 1959-60.
For that period and city, the following additional subjects of
grievance are listed: weekly rest (240), holidays (22), rehiring (7),
and tips (1); but the "other" category (789) is 26 percent of the
total for Port-au-Piince (3,034).
SCURCE: Revue du Travail. 1960, pp. 164-166; 1961, pp. 108,

Nearly 7,000 work conflicts were reported in
11 cities by the Conciliation Service in the 2-
year period 1958-60.21 About 44 percent of
these occurred in manufacturing enterprises
and handicraft shops and about 20 percent
occurred in service industries. (See table 11.)
Port-au-Prince was the scene of nearly 46 per-
cent of these disputes. Les Cayes and Cap
Haitien together witnessed nearly 22 percent
21 The available reports of the Conciliation and Arbitration Service
do not define its usage of the term "conflict" conflict) but it does
net appear to be synonymous with "strike"; and it is differentiated
from "grievance" (doleance) in their tabulations. These reports
do not separate individual from collective conflicts. That the "con.
flicts" were for the most part individual in character is suggested
by the fact that, in 1959-60, the number of complainants (plaig-
.ents) was the same as the number of grievances reported. Hence
the figures cited, which are the best available, are of limited sig-
nificance as an indication of the dimensions of labor conflict,
although they indicate the distribution of conflict according to
subject of grievance and type of industry. (Cf. Revue du Travail.
1961, oc. cit.) *

of all the conflicts, and over 40 percent of those
which occurred away from the capital.
The Conciliation Service reported in 1961
that conflicts brought before it "could often be
negotiated by the parties themselves if they
were well informed as to their rights and duties
and if they approached their problems -with
objectivity." (Revue du Travail, May 1961, p.

Type of enterprise Number Percent

All enterprises ------. 6,735 100.0
Industrial (manufacturing) 1,355 20.1
Handicraft ------------ 1,595 23.7
Commercial--------------------. 473 7.0
Service ---------- 1,279 19.0
Other ------------------------- 2,033 30.2

1 See footnote 1, table 10.
2 Source gives no breakdown.
SOURCE: Reports by Conciliation and Arbitration Service in
Revue du Travail, May 1960, pp. 167-168; May 1961, pp. 138-139.

By law, a collective contract covers all wage
earners in the enterprise, whether or not they
are members of the negotiating union. A col-
lective contract supersedes any individual con-
tract, unless the latter is more favorable to the
worker. In a highly detailed and specific way,
the law stipulates 11 items which every collec-
tive bargain should contain. These include not
only the stipulation of wages by categories, of
bonuses and other advantages, of conditions of
work, and of hiring and licensing, but also,
where foreign technicians are employed, of
rules for the operation of apprenticeship and
professional training designed to make it pos-
sible to replace foreigners in technical positions
with Haitian nationals. Collective contracts
may be signed by more than one union or group
of employees in the same business. If, however,
one contract is more favorable than another
with regard to work performed under the same
conditions, the more advantageous terms will
apply to all.
The collective agreement must be written in
French, and two copies delivered to the General
Directorate of Labor. It may be of definite or
indefinite duration. If it is drawn up for a
specific length of time, it cannot be for less than
1 year nor more than 5, but it is renewable by

tacit agreement in the absence of any stipula-
tion to the contrary.
Over a 10-year period (1946-55) labor and
management signed 60 collective agreements. In
the year 1957-58, only two agreements between
unions and managements were signed, but by
1963 most of the larger establishments had
collective bargaining agreements with their
The objectives of the trade union movement,
however, usually are sought through legisla-
tion, and conflicts in labor-management rela-
tions are settled less often by bargaining than
by law and by government intervention. Labor
inspectors may, on their own initiative, refer
disputes to the Conciliation and Arbitration
Service; and when this is done, the parties can-
not refuse government service. If no settlement
is achieved by the Conciliation and Arbitration
Service, the case goes before a 5-man Arbitra-
tion Committee composed of two representa-
tives of the Department of Labor and Social
Welfare and one each of management, labor,
and the Communal Council of the commune in
which the place of employment is located. The
Labor Code provides that appeal from the de-
cision of this Committee can be made to a quad-

ripartite Superior Arbitration Council (repre-
senting government, the bar, management, and
labor). As of April 1963, however, the
Superior Arbitration Council had not been
created. In serious cases, decisions are made by
the Secretary of Labor in what amounts to
compulsory arbitration. The regard in which
either the union or management is held by the
Government appears to be the deciding factor
in industrial relations.
Neither the strike nor the lockout is illegal in
Haiti provided legal requirements with regard
to conciliation efforts and advance notice have
been observed. In Haiti, a strike seldom lasts
more than a few days or a week or so, and, if
no solution is accomplished, it may be called
again in a few months. Strikes have a certain
nuisance value but are an ineffective weapon ex-
cept as a method of publicizing a grievance,
since most unions have no strike or welfare
funds and their membership cannot weather
payless paydays. Few labor disputes result in
strikes. Generally, the Department of Labor
and Social Welfare settles labor disputes before
they reach that point. The rationale underlying
such intervention is that the Haitian economy
cannot sustain prolonged work stoppages, but
there is also considerable political motivation.


Chapter VII. Pay and Allowances

Categories of Employment
The incipient stage of industrialization in
Haiti, and the predominance of self-employ-
ment in agricultural and handicraft activities
result in little demand for standards for dis-
tinguishing different occupational groups, types
of skills, and levels of capability and respon-
Except in a few foreign companies, there are
no detailed systems of job classification. Dis-
tinctions are made only between obvious general
categories, such as the difference between mes-
senger and clerk. The oil companies in Haiti use
the classification systems which they employ
generally throughout the Caribbean area.

Base Pay
Every worker is declared by the Labor Code
to be entitled to a minimum wage sufficient to
supply his needs and those of his family. The
minimum living wage is required by the law to
be adjusted periodically to the fluctuations in
the cost of living whenever the indexes show a
cost-of-living increase of 10 percent or more in
the course of a year. Although the code is
categorical in these requirements, it does not
indicate how to surmount the practical difficul-
ties of implementation, nor specify how the
minimum wage is to be determined. Only very
partial and fragmentary official Haitian statis-
tics on the cost of living have been published
since 1959; those published at that time related
only to Port-au-Prince.
The basic minimum wage for all sectors of
the economy and all types of activity for which
special minimum wages have not been estab-
lished is 31/2 gourdes (US$0.70) per 8-hour day.
This amounts to a rate of about 0.44 gourdes
(83/4 cents) per hour or 21 gourdes (US$4.20)
per week for temporary employees; and a rate

of 0.51 gourdes (10% cents) per hour or 24.5
gourdes (US$4.90) per week for permanent
employees, since the latter, by virtue of paid
leave on Sunday, receive 7 days' pay for 6 days
worked. For employees paid by the month, the
minimum wage is 105 gourdes (US$21) per
month (3.50 X 30).22
The Higher Wage Board, which is authorized
to recommend minimum wages (see section on
Agencies and Tribunals Concerned with Labor),
in 1951 and 1952 classified jobs in certain kinds
of commercial enterprise according to kind of
work, skill level, and seniority, and established
corresponding minimum monthly wages. (See
table 12.) These rates were still in effect as of
April 1963. As of that date, the Board had made
no more recent determinations of special mini-
mum wages in commerce, and had published no
special minimum wages for manufacturing.
Wages actually paid in various economic sec-
tors (except agriculture) in 1959, as reported in
an official Haitian publication, are shown in
table 13.
Payment of wages either on a time basis or
on a piece or job basis is. specifically permitted,
as is also payment in cash or in kind. Payment
in cash must be in legel tender; payment by any
variety of voucher or token is expressly for-
bidden by law. Payment in kind may be in the
form of food, lodging, or clothing; but in agri-
cultural pursuits, land ceded by the employer to
the worker for sowing and harvesting is not to
be considered as payment in kind. The law also
provides that wages can be paid on a profit-
sharing basis. If this system is used, the worker
receives a prorated share per month, with an
annual adjustment at the end of the year if the
forecast of expected profits proves to be
22 Cf. Latortue, op. cit., p. 228.


Type of r-tablishment Employees

Imported g-aries Sales clerks-----.
Shopboys (porters) ---
Domestic groceries ----- Sales clerks ----.
Shopboy -----.----.---
Small grocery stores .. All
Wholesale fabrics -.. Sales clerks------------
Retail fabrics-....-------..-- Sales clerks --------..
Sh- boys ...-......-
Bazaars, haberdasheries. All regular-....... ..-
F.,st 6 months em-
ployed -----m----
7-12 months em-

(in U.S.


31) (1


Apr. 1, 1951
May 1, 1951
July 1, 1951


Souvenir shops--------- All -------------------.... 30.00 Do.
Construction materials
sales ----------------All ------------------- 35.00 Do.
Agencies (distributors)-- All ----------------- 40.00 Do.
Sporting and mechanical
equipment and acces-
sories--------------- All regular----.....------...... 40.00 Do.
First 6 months employed 26.00 Do.
7-12 months employed-- 35.00 Do.
Household items------- All ------------------- 30.00 Do.
Shoe sales --------- All_ ---------------- 30.00 Do.
Book stores, stationers_ Sales clerks ------------ 30.00 Aug. 1, 1951
Shor;boys-------------- 21.00 Do.
Pharmacies- .------...--.. Pharmacists-----------. 60.00 Do.
Sales clerks --------..-. 35.00 Do.
First 6 months employed 25.00 Do.
7-12 months employed 30.00 Do.
Ga5 stations...----All------------------- 23.00 Feb. 1, 1952

SOURCE: Bulletin Trimestriel de Statistique (Port-au-Prince, Institut
Ha'itien de Statistique), Nos. 30, 31, 32 [combined], March 1959, table
73-2, p. 151.

The Labor Code makes provision for pro-
tection of workers against certain abuses which
might interfere with the receipt of their earn-
ings. Wages must be paid in the workplace and
on working days. Employers are forbidden to
make cash loans with interest to any members
of their staffs. Any payments in advance can
ordinarily be recovered legally only by succes-

sive deductions not exceeding one-sixth of the
contract wages. Workers cannot legally be
coerced to make use of stores or services main-
tained by the employer. Where access to other
stores or services is not possible, the General
Directorate of Labor is responsible for ensuring
that stores and services provided by the em-
ployer are operated for the benefit of the work-
ers on a nonprofit basis. Exaction of payment
in order to obtain or to retain a job, in the form
of a deduction in wages, is forbidden. A wage
deduction made in order to compensate for
damage to an employer's property is permitted
only if the responsibility of the worker con-
cerned can be proved, but the deduction must
not exceed one-quarter of the monthly wage.

Supplemental Payments

The Labor Code requires all employers to pay
an annual bonus (boni) to their employees and
workers during the last week in December.
The law further requires that this bonus be
not less than one-twelfth of the salary paid
during the year, whatever kind of remunera-
tion is involved-cash, kind, lodging, commis-
sion, or tips-although no device or method is
specified for computing one-twelfth of pay-
ments in kind, lodging, or tips. Thus, in effect,
a 13th month is by law added to the pay year.
When a work contract is terminated before the
end of the year, the worker or employee is en-
titled to a prorated fraction of the bonus in
addition to any other payments due him at the
time of separation. For newly hired personnel,


Wage or salary
(per mcnth)

Less th;'. r20..-..-..
$20 to $49..........
$50 to $99..........
$100 to $149 ..------
$150 to $199.........
$200 to $299 ----... .
$300 to $399.---------
$400 and over......--
Not reported .....------

Median monthly
wage --.--

Number of wage or salary earners

Electric, gas, Transportation
All listed Mining Manufacturing3 and water Commerce and communica- Services
sectors services tions'

3,291 .------------.. 1,518 ................ 1,065 20 688
6,264 278 3,171 52 1,868 47 848
1,991 120 733 128 786 60 164
729 93 185 30 357 30 34
314 22 71 16 163 16 26
269 18 55 10 160 8 18
108 9 27 -------........ 56 11 5
81 23 22 7 16 6 7
4,482 4 2,106 .---------.-----............. 1,505 34 833








I See footnote 1, table 5. SOURCE: Compiled from the Revue du Travail (Port-au-Prince, De-
2 Includes small handicraft industry producing tourist goods. apartment de Travail et due Bien-itre Social), May 1960, pp. 101 ff.
Transportation and communication figures relate only to Port-au- and May 1961, pp. 120 ff.

the bonus is to be prorated according to the
number of months worked. Failure to pay the
compulsory bonus is punishable by a fine of 50
gourdes (US$10) to 500 gourdes (US$100).
Some employers have felt that the adoption of
the boni requirement was a back-door ap-
proach to a general wage raise, unrelated as it
is to any considerations of performance or job
stability. Before it was required by law, pay-
ment of the yearend bonus had been the
voluntary practice of some establishments who
had used it as an incentive and as an award
for specially meritorious employees.
Miners who work underground receive 25
percent more than is paid to surface miners.
Any underground miner transferred to sur-
face work because of a physical disability,
properly certified, continues to receive this dif-
ferential if he has had 18 months of service as
an underground miner.
The law requires that decent, safe trans-
portation and/or shelter must be provided if
the workplace is outside the city limits or
beyond a reasonable distance from the worker's
home. Migratory, or seasonal workers, and
some transport workers (seamen especially),
must be provided with transportation between
the terminal points set forth in their con-
Tools and materials are usually provided by
the employer and the law requires that these
be furnished in good working order and main-
tained by him. Damage to tools and machinery
can be charged against the worker.

Travel Expenses
Employees of private industry below the
managerial level whose duties require them to
travel are few in number. The oil companies
pay the travel expenses of mechanics and
truckdrivers. For managerial personnel, com-
pensation for travel in the performance of duty
is customary. For Government employees, reg-
ulations usually provide travel allowances.
Travel allowances are often generous for high
level officials, and especially for foreign travel
by such officials.

Pay Increases, Promotions, and Demotions
There are no prevalent formal systems for
promotions and demotions of rank-and-fil3

labor. Practice in these matters is usually in-
formal, personal, and traditional, unless it is
prescribed by particular collective labor con-
tracts. Seniority is not usually recognized, ex-
cept when labor contracts require that for
workers with equal qualifications, seniority
shall govern promotions. There are no estab-
lished formal procedures with respect to de-
motions. Demotions are rare, partly because
they are likely to cause problems for the em-
ployer, including hearings before the Minister
of Labor and Social Welfare. Most Haitians
will quit rather than accept a demotion.
For supervisory personnel, some foreign com-
panies have established systems with respect
to pay increases, performance ratings, etc.

Pay Period Frequency
The Labor Code provides that pay periods
can be fixed by mutual consent except that they
cannot be more than 15 days apart for manual
workers or more than 1 month apart for white-
collar employees.
Wage earners in unskilled jobs are most
frequently paid by the hour, piece, or job. The
latter two methods are employed principally
in manufacturing and business enterprises. A
few professionals work by the job, particularly.
those doing custom accounting. Clerical and
skilled workers are paid generally by the
month, as is construction labor regularly em-
ployed by another kind of enterprise (as, for
example, carpenters regularly employed by the
mining companies).
For jobwork or piecework, whether per-
formed at home or at the employer's establish-
ment, pay periods are fixed by mutual agree-
ment. Where such employment is expected to
run more than 15 days, the worker must re-
ceive an accounting every 15 days unless the
employer chooses to make payments on account.
If such an accounting is not received, the law
requires that the work be paid for within 15
days of completion.

Withholdings and Deductions
There are no provisions in the law for with-
holding union dues or for other assessments ex-
cept income tax and social insurance payments.
When and if all the provisions of the Labor

Code are put into force, workers will contribute
up to 2 percent of their pay to finance sick and
maternity insurance, disability pensions, and
survivors' insurance. (See section on Social
The Labor Code allows certain deductions
by the employer, up to one-sixth of the total
wages or salary due. These deductions may be
for advances against wages or salary, or
charges against the employee for damage to
tools or materials. The latter amount cannot
finally exceed the real value of the damage or

loss. There can be no deductions to pay fines
levied as disciplinary actions, nor can wages
of under 500 gourdes (US$100) a month be
attached for payment of debts. Attachment of
wages over 500 gourdes a month but less than
800 gourdes (US$160) is limited to 10 percent
of the amount due; over 800 gourdes a month,
attachment is limited to 20 percent (art. 501,
Civil Code). The law also forbids withholding
from wages or salaries as payment of a re-
cruiting or employment fee to the employer or
his agent.

Chapter VIII. Hours of Work and Premiums

Hours of Work
The normal working hours of persons em-
ployed in any industrial, commercial, or agri-
cultural establishment shall not exceed 8 a day
and 48 a week, according to the Labor Code.
The 48-hour week may be distributed otherwise
than 8 hours a day, subject to a maximum of
9 hours a day in industry, and 10 hours a day in
commerce. The normal hours of work for
miners are 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week.
For Government workers, the law specifies a
40-hour week, but allows the week to be short-
ened to as little as 30 hours by administrative
decision. Accordingly, the Government, the
largest single employer, recently adopted a 36-
hour week for the winter months and a 30-hour
week for the summer.
The Labor Code specifies that the normal
workday shall end at 5 p.m. during the months
from October to April and at 4 p.m. during the
months from May to September. Every wage
and salary earner is entitled to a minimum mid-
day rest period of 11/2 hours per day, not to be
counted as part of the working day. This long
lunch hour is usual in tropical climates. A
pregnant woman or nursing mother has a right
to two other rest periods of at least one-half
hour each.
Overtime is permitted subject to a maximum
of 20 hours a week, but it must be authorized by
a labor inspector. It may be prohibited in
periods of unemployment. It is not permitted
in hazardous or unhealthful jobs.
The restriction of work to an 8-hour day and
a 48-hour week does not apply to establishments
for the care of the sick; to hotels, cafes, restau-
rants, boarding houses, and clubs; to theaters
and places of public amusement; to air, sea, and
land transport services; to laundries, beauty
and barber shops, pharmacies, bakeries, fac-
tories in continuous operation; or to grocery
shops retailing essential commodities, provided
certain conditions be met.
The limits on hours of work may be ex-
ceeded, with payment at the rate of time and
a half for overtime, to meet emergencies result-
ing from accident or circumstances beyond the
employer's control; to prevent the loss of perish-

ables; or to permit special accounting work. In
processes which require continuous operation
by a succession of shifts, working hours may be
extended to a maximum of 56 a week, without
premium pay; such regulation of hours must
not affect the workers' weekly rest day. Agri-
cultural workers may work 60 hours a week, 10
hours a day, "in case of absolute necessity,"
with payment for overtime.
Domestic workers do not benefit from any
limitations on the workday or workweek, ex-
cept that they are entitled daily to 10 free
hours out of 24, a free "half day" of unspecified
hourly duration per workweek, and an addi-
tional "half day" off on Sundays and legal holi-
days. Illiterate domestic workers may attend
workers' education courses three times a week
without objection by their employers.
Children 12 years of age or over may perform
light industrial work, on condition that such
work be outside school hours, for no more than
2 hours a day, and not later than 6 p.m. Be-
tween the ages. of 16 and 18, the employed youth
is considered an apprentice and his labor is
regulated by an apprenticeship contract. (See
section on Education.)
Employers in Haiti generally observe a some-
what shorter workweek than the law requires.
In 1960, the average workweek was 45.2 hours
in manufacturing, construction, commerce,
transportation, and services. Recent reports in-
dicate there is some sentiment favoring the
adoption of a 51-day week, giving a half holi-
day on Saturday afternoon.
Provisions limiting hours of work (and other
working conditions) generally do not apply to
small family businesses with no outside em-
ployees, to administrative or managerial per-
sonnel, or to high Government officials.

Nightwork is legally defined as work done
between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Such
work is entitled to a 50-percent pay differential.
When the normal tour of duty includes both
day and night hours, this differential applies to
the hours after 6 p.m. When hours of work
are regularly at night, the work contract must

stipulate this fact and indicate both base
pay and night differential. The Labor Code
prescribes that nightwork performed on Sun-
days and holidays be paid at time and a half
rates "without prejudice" to the increased pay-
ments prescribed for overtime work and for
work on Sundays and public holidays. (See sec-
tion on Overtime.)

Periodic Rest Days
The staff employed in any industrial or com-
mercial establishment is entitled to a minimum
of 24 consecutive hours of rest in every 7-day
period. This periodic rest day is to be granted
on Sunday if possible; and, with the exceptions
noted in the section on Hours of Work, every
agricultural, industrial, or commercial estab-
lishment is required to cease work on Sunday.
This day of rest is a paid holiday for permanent
Besides the kinds of establishments exempted
from usual limitations on hours of work, the
law recognizes certain categories of work which
may by their nature be excluded from this Sun-
day holiday: Repair work occasioned by force
majeure fortuitous causes, which cannot be
postponed; technical or experimental work in
agriculture or .industry that cannot be inter-
rupted; seasonal or irregular work dependent
on weather conditions; domestic work; and, in
general, "work which is necessary to the good
operation of an enterprise and cannot be post-
poned." Workers engaged in this sort of em-
ployment are granted other days of the week
off on a rotating basis. Regular rotation in
commercial and service employment must be
arranged so that at least one Sunday a month
is a day off. Overtime is not paid when Sunday
is a regular part of the tour of duty.
Seasonal agricultural workers who cannot be
accorded any days off during their employment
but who, by contract, are entitled to periodic
rest days, may accumulate this time and be
compensated for it at the end of their employ-
ment, in the same way as for paid annual leave.

National and Religious Holidays
The 1957 Constitution established six na-
tional holidays (Fetes Nationales) and provided
that other legal holidays (fetes legales) are to
be fixed by law. Certain religious dates are ob-

served as public holidays. Some of these reli-
gious dates were made annual public holidays
by law adopted in 1926 and amended in 1931.
This law also authorized the President by
proclamation to select certain days to be ob-
served as public holidays, but for the current
year only, and not more than 5 days in any one
year. Still other holidays are proclaimed annu-
ally by the President on his own authority.
There are, consequently, variations from year
to year in the number of public holidays, and
in any one year there are a number of holidays
whose inclusion would greatly extend the list
which appears below. The inauguration of a
president has often been the occasion for a
week's holiday; for the most recent presidential
reinauguration, the celebration lasted for 2
months. The Government exerted pressure on
employers to pay wages, for the period of work
suspension, to the workers who flocked to the
capital. This kind of holiday is independent
of formal statutory or constitutional authoriza-
The following list includes both constitution-
ally established and other major national

National Independence Day 1 __ January 1
Heroes' Day 1 January 2
Monday before Shrove Tuesday
(half-day holiday) .---------------.... Variable
Shrove Tuesday -Variable
Good Friday-------------- ----- Variable
Pan American Day -----------------April 14
Labor and Agriculture Day 1--------- May 1
Flower Day -----------------------May 2
Ascension Day -------- Variable
Flag Day --------------- May 18
Corpus Christi ---------------Variable
Assumption Day------ August 15
Day of National Sovereignty 2 -..-- September 22
United Nations Day ---------------- October 24
All Saints Day --------- November 1
Army Day: Anniversary of the
Battle of Vertieres 1 ------ --November 18
Anniversary of the Discovery of
Haiti by Christopher Columbus December 5
Christmas -----------------------December 25
1 Constitutionally established.
2 In 1961, 1962, and 1963, this holiday was also observed
May 22-24.
The Labor Codes requires that work on holi-
days, like work on Sundays, be compensated at
the rate of time and a half, in addition to any
other wage differentials that may apply. (See
section on Overtime.) Such legal provisions

regarding holidays are not always strictly

The law limits the amount of overtime and
specifies the conditions under which it is per-
mitted. It also exempts certain types of estab-
lishments and activities from normal working
hours. (See section on Hours of Work.) In all
other types of establishments and activities,
any hours worked in excess of normal working
hours are to be paid at time and a half, and
recorded, together with the wages paid to the
persons who worked overtime and the reason
why the overtime was worked. This informa-
tion is required in order to facilitate supervision
by the appropriate Government authority. Over-
time is calculated on the basis of the normal
workweek of 48 hours. It is rarely calculated
on the basis of the normal workday of 8 hours,
because of the provision permitting distribution
of the 48-hour week other than by 8 hours per
day without payment of a premium.
The Labor Code provides that premiums of
time and a half shall be paid for overtime, for
Sunday or holiday work, and for nightwork,
and that these premiums shall be "without pre-
judice" to one another. The authorized inter-
pretation of this phrase, and the current prac-
tice in large enterprises, is that the time and a
half premium rate is always applied to the base
pay, even if two or three circumstances, each
calling for a time and a half premium, occur
simultaneously; hence, hours worked at night
on a Sunday or holiday are to be paid double the
base rate of pay.

Paid Leave
Annual, sick, and maternity leave with pay
are provided for in the Labor Code. After a
year of service, every worker is entitled to at
least 15 consecutive days of paid leave, in-
cluding 13 workdays and 2 Sundays, exclusive
of holiday or sick leave. The code prescribes
that a worker who is entitled to annual leave
but terminates his employment for any reason
before taking it shall receive the amount pay-
able in cash for 15 days' work. Furthermore,
if a worker is suspended or dismissed or re-
signs for any reason before he has been in

employment for 1 year, he shall be entitled to a
twelfth part of the annual leave for each
month's employment. This provision was first
added to the regulations in 1954 to correct
abuses. Previously, because of the abundant
supply of unskilled labor, employers were
known to discharge workers after 11 months of
service in order to avoid payments for annual
leave. Any agreements providing for the re-
nunciation of annual leave are void. Failure to
grant annual leave which is due is punishable
by fines of 50 gourdes (US$10) to 2,000 gourdes
On jobs where the work does not proceed
regularly throughout the year, such as those in
coffee-exporting establishments, cottage indus-
try workshops, and factories where construction
materials are made, the worker's annual leave
is to be calculated on the basis of the total num-
ber of days actually worked, including Sundays
and public holidays, divided by 30. For every
period of 30 days, the worker is entitled to 11/4
days' leave. In these calculations, months in
which the worker was employed for less than
8 days are disregarded.
The Labor Code does not specify the time of
year when annual leave must be given, but the
prevailing practice is to grant leave during the
summer months, sometime between May 1 and
October 31, during Haiti's slack season.
Annual leave is paid at the base rate, plus
the cash equivalent of any payment in kind.
Where salary is based on commissions, or shares
of the profits, the total profits are divided by the
number of months, then by the number of days
worked in a month. The amount calculated in
this way is considered to be the average daily
salary. This figure is to be multiplied by the
number of days of leave to be taken.
The law provides that annual leave is not
cumulative nor subject to postponement. The
only exception to this is in the event of force
majeure which prevents the granting of leave.
Even under this circumstance leave may be
accumulated for no more than 2 years. This
exception must be stipulated in writing and
authorized by the General Directorate of Labor.
There have been difficulties arising from fail-
ure to understand the provision against ac-
cumulation of annual leave. The General Di-
rectorate of Labor has noted that employees

often claim payment for leave not taken as part
of the payment due on termination of employ-
ment, and feel aggrieved when reminded of the
The workers who are entitled to paid annual
leave are entitled also to 15 days' paid sick leave
per year. If the worker does not have a year
of service, he is entitled to sick leave on the
basis of service performed, calculated on the
same basis as annual leave. To claim sick leave
in any amount, the employee must present a
medical certificate signed by the employer's doc-
tor, if the company provides one, or by the
public health doctor.
On presentation of a medical certificate show-
ing estimated date of confinement, the female
employee on the permanent roll is entitled to
paid maternity leave, amounting to 6 weeks at
full pay-3 weeks before and 3 weeks after the
date of confinement. This maternity leave is
required by a 1958 law which is still in force.
The present provisions are to be superseded as

soon as the Social Insurance Institution
(IDASH) inaugurates a mandatory system of
maternity insurance. Thereafter, the provisions
of articles 379-381 of the Labor Code will apply.
These articles provide for 12 weeks' leave, to
be paid by IDASH if the woman is duly regis-
tered with the Institution for maternity insur-
ance and otherwise by the employer. At least
4 weeks of this leave should be granted before
confinement and at least 6 weeks should be
taken after it. The remaining 2 weeks may be
taken at either end of the leave. When confine-
ment takes place later than estimated, the re-
quired 6 weeks' leave after confinement cannot
be reduced, although it may result in more than
12 weeks' leave. In the event of abortion or
premature birth of a stillborn child, the worker
will be entitled to leave of 2 to 4 weeks after the
event. If a premature child is born alive, pro-
visions for regular maternity leave will apply.
Provisions for all types of paid leave are the
same for manual and for white-collar workers.

Chapter IX. Safety, Insurance, and Facilities

Health and Safety
Title VII of the Labor Code establishes mini-
mum requirements for safeguards against oc-
cupational risks. Generally, the employer must
not allow accumulation of debris; he must pro-
vide "sufficient" working room, light, and air;
"appropriate" sanitary facilities and dressing
room areas; "adequate" drinking water and eat-
ing facilities. Standards for determining what
is "sufficient," "appropriate," and "adequate"
are not specified in the Labor Code, which pro-
vides only that "all appropriate measures" for
these ends in particular, and for a "sufficient"
protection of the workers' health in general,
should be taken by the employer in accord with
the Labor Inspection Service.
The General Directorate of Labor is em-
powered to establish regulations defining the
types of work considered to be unsanitary or
hazardous and the measures which must be
taken against health risks. There are, however,
some general provisions to be observed by all
Where protective clothing is required, it must
be furnished, cleaned, and maintained by the
employer. He must also furnish any necessary
protective masks, eyeglasses, or safety belts.
The employer must maintain machines in
good working order and if repairs are needed
they must be made when the machine is idle.
In construction or building repair, scaffold-
ing used more than 10 feet above the ground
must be provided on each side with a guard
rail at least 3 feet high.
The possession of alcoholic beverages or
narcotics at any place of employment is for-
Weights over 175 pounds may not be carried
by one worker. Under all conditions, the age
and physical condition of the worker must be
taken into consideration. Exceptionally heavy
objects should be moved mechanically.
It is unlawful for employers in industrial or
commercial enterprises to authorize their work-
ers to sleep or eat in the premises where the
work is performed. The employer is required
to provide special sleeping quarters and suitable

facilities for meals. (See section on Employee
Employers in agricultural, commercial, in-
dustrial, and other enterprises of any kind
which employ 20 or more wage earners are
required by the Labor Code to engage the serv-
ices of one or more physicians to prevent any
danger to the workers' health, maintain health
standards, and provide first aid for casualties.
Wage earners whose employment is perma-
nent are to be provided with health certificates,
issued by the Public Health Service, within 3
months following recruitment. These certifi-
cates should show the results of chest X-ray
and the Kahn and Seller tests for yaws and
syphilis. The certificates must be renewed each
year and be kept available by the employer for
inspection by the Department of Labor and
Social Welfare or the Public Health Service.
The health certificates cost the employer 25
gourdes (US$5) per worker per year. Failure
to observe this regulation is punishable by a
fine of 200 gourdes (US$40) to 2,000 gourdes
(US$400), or imprisonment up to 3 months,
levied against the employer.
Minors and persons working with foodstuffs
to be sold at retail are legally required to sub-
mit to periodic medical examination. Foir
children these examinations are spaced at 6-
month intervals; for persons handling retail
foodstuffs, such examinations are required
every month. As a condition of domestic em-
ployment, the employer may demand a health
certificate completed no more than 30 days
before employment. These examinations are to
be available free of charge at the Public Health
Service, according to the law. In practice, such
examinations are not customary, and there is
no Public Health Service capable of fulfilling
this requirement. (See section on Health and
The work accident rate in Haiti is high,
which may account for the specific and detailed
health and safety requirements of the Labor
Code. For the year 1959-60, the General Di-
rectorate of Labor registered 4,796 reports of
work accidents. Over half of them (2,632)
were recorded in the Port-au-Prince jurisdic-

tion, which is to be expected due to the concen-
tration of industry in the area and since records
for that city are more complete than for other
regions. The next largest number of accidents
(1,193) was reported at Fort Liberte, where
the large sisal and rope plants are located. For
the first time, the area around Gonaives reg-
istered a large number of accidents (392). The
General Directorate of Labor stated that these
were due mainly to the increasing activity of
the copper mining operations. Accidents in
agricultural activities were not included in
these statistics.
In the same year (1959-60), there was a
total of 33,280 industrial, commercial, and
service workers in Haiti, according to the Gen-
eral Directorate of Labor. The national ac-
cident rate, therefore, was roughly one for
every seven workers. This was, also, approxi-
mately the rate in Port-au-Prince. At Fort
Liberty, where 3,178 workers were reported in
all categories, 1 out of 3 workers suffered some
sort of accident and at Gonaives, where a total
of 1,015 workers were reported employed, the
accident rate was about the same.23

Accident Compensation
The Labor Code assigns to IDASH responsi-
bility for the administration of work accident
insurance, and authorizes that institution to
extend such insurance to wage and salary
earners and day laborers in agricultural, in-
dustrial, and commercial enterprises.
All workers, including domestic labor, are
covered by the workmen's compensation law,
except unsalaried workers in a family business,
the military forces on active duty, and the
clergy. In practice, however, domestic labor is
Work accidents, as defined by the law for
insurance purposes, include mishaps occurring
during travel to and from work, provided no
stops or detours are made for personal reasons.
No compensation is paid for accidents resulting
from the worker's intoxication, from a punish-
able offense such as rioting or fighting in which
23 These figures are taken from the inquiry on employment and
wages for the Port-au-Prince jurisdiction, reported in Revue du
Travail for May 1960 and May 1961, and the "Report on Workers
and Enterprises in the Provinces" by industry, appendix of Revue
du Travail. May 1961.

the victim was a willing participant, from at-
tempted suicide, or from an accident which has
been intentionally provoked. Otherwise, the
law is not specific on the cause and responsi-
bility for accidents, i.e., the criteria for deter-
mining whether or not they are work connected.
Haitian courts have not always required proof
that injuries are work connected. Instead, they
have shown a tendency to put the burden of
proof on the employer and to require proof that
an injury is not work connected.
The cost of work accident insurance is borne
entirely by the employer, who contributes to a
fund administered by IDASH a certain per-
centage of his total payroll: 2 percent in the
case of commercial enterprises; 3 percent in
agricultural, industrial, or construction enter-
prises; and 6 percent in mining enterprises.
IDASH can require the employer to bear
directly the costs of medical care and other
expenses, if it can be shown that negligence on
his part caused the accident.
All work accidents which cause a day or more
of absence from work must be reported to
IDASH within 3 days by both employer and em-
ployee. The victim of a work accident is entitled
to medical care and to a daily compensation.
Compensation is payable by the employer for the
first 3 days, and by IDASH for the rest of the
period of incapacity except for days when the
worker receives his wages in conformity with
laws on the various types of paid leave. Com-
pensation is at the rate of two-thirds of the base
pay for each working day, but compensation is
not to be less than 70 gourdes (US$14) a month
nor more than 1,000 gourdes (US$200) a
Medical care includes hospitalization and sur-
gery, prosthetic and orthopedic appliances, eye-
glasses, hearing aids, and all other necessary
care. For these purposes, IDASH maintains its
own hospital and clinical facilities.
In the event of permanent disability, the
worker is entitled to a monthly income, related
to degree of disability. IDASH determines de-
gree of disability, taking into consideration the
severity of the accident, and the age and pro-
fession of the victim. IDASH is authorized to
convert such monthly income into a lump-sum
payment if permanent disability is 35 percent
or more, provided the state of incapacity has

become stabilized and "a guarantee is given to
the competent authorities that the lump sum
will be judicially employed." The code does not
define the type of guarantee required.
In the event of death from a work-connected
accident or illness, compensation includes a
funeral grant, and survivorship benefits in the
form of pensions in varying amounts to the
widow, common-law wife or dependent husband,
and also to children under 21 years of age or,
if there are no children, to dependent parents
or grandparents. These pensions are based on
percentages of the annuity (up to 80 percent)
that would have been paid in the event of
permanent total disability of the insured
The employer is required to rehire an injured
worker within 15 days after his recovery if
requested by the worker. The worker can exer-
cise this reemployment right for 6 months after
the date of the accident, if the job still exists.
Occupational diseases covered by insurance
administered by IDASH were listed by the
Government in 1953. Such diseases include:
1. Ulcerations caused by acids or caustic substances.
2. Anthrax contracted by workers who handle hides.
3. Ailments caused by X-rays, including cancer,
anemia, and leukemia.
4. Tetanus contracted by sewer and dam workers.
5. Tuberculosis, but only when it occurs among
hospital, clinic, and sanatorium personnel, and when
the worker has been employed more than 6 months.
6. Toxic effects by dyes, chemicals, or lead.
7. Certain ailments caused by soldering or welding.
8. Chest ailments attributable to work with cement,
cotton, jute, or resinous or silocose substances.
The Labor Code of 1961 is silent with respect
to workmen's compensation for occupational
disease. It does not, however, specifically re-
scind the previously assigned responsibility of
IDASH with respect to such diseases.

Social Insurance
Although the Labor Code provides for sev-
eral kinds of social insurance, the only kinds
in effect as of April 1963 were work accident
compensation and the civil service retirement
system. (See below.) In addition, the Armed
Forces have an autonomous retirement plan.

Old-Age Insurance. In 1960, when the Labor
Code was under discussion, the Labor Depart-

ment circulated a proposal for a social security
system designed to cover all of Haiti's wage
earners. It would have permitted retirement
at age 50 after 30 years of service. Employees
and workers would have contributed 6 percent
to 12 percent of their wages; employers would
not have been required to contribute. This pro-
posal did not become part of the Labor Code.
An earlier 1956 proposal failed of adoption,
because of a change of administration.
At present, the only retirement system re-
quired by law is that applying to civil servants,
who may retire after 22 years of service. Pen-
sions under this system are paid to about 2,400
retired Government workers or their widows.
Almost half of these pensions (48.5 percent)
are less than 200 gourdes (US$40) a month;
about 15 percent are more than 500 gourdes
(US$100) a month.
Invalidity and Health Insurance. A system of
health and maternity insurance is described in
the Labor Code; but the General Directorate
of the Institute of Social Welfare and Research
(IHBESR) is authorized to decide when it shall
become practicable, and in April 1963 it had
not yet been put into effect. It is to be based
on a contribution of 4 percent of the payroll-
half by the employer and half by the employed
-unless the base pay is less than 100 gourdes
(US$20) a month, when the contribution is to
be paid entirely by the employer. If the base
pay is more than 100 gourdes (US$20) but less
than 150 gourdes (US$30), the employer is to
pay three-fourths of the contribution. To cover
dependents, an additional contribution of 3 per-
cent is to be paid entirely by the worker. Collec-
tion is to be made by withholding from pay and,
if the employer should fail to withhold for the
current period, he cannot deduct retroactively
to cover more than three payments at one time.
Any remaining delinquent contributions are to
be payable by the employer.
Coverage is to be mandatory for all workers
entitled to accident compensation (see section
on Accident Compensation), and disability and
survivorship benefits are to be handled by
IDASH as accident insurance is now handled.
Medical care is to be available for a maximum
of 27 weeks with hospitalization not exceeding
30 days in any one year.

Low-Cost Credit and Mutual Benefit Funds.
Since 1946, about 60 credit unions have been
established in Haiti. They operate under the
supervision of the National Council on Coopera-
tives, created in 1953. Most of these are in
rural areas, started either by the Oblate
Fathers or by the extension service of the
Ministry of Agriculture. Generally, they are
not a source of credit for the urban workers,
many of whom borrow against their wages
with no effective protection against usurious
The Haitian Labor Code endorses for coop-
eratives the principles of free association,
voluntary contribution, a limited rate of in-
terest (not more than 6 percent), and a pro-
rated rebate of any savings effected in trans-
actions. It requires cooperatives to have at
least 15 members, with capital made up of non-
transferable shares with a nominal value of
at least 5 gourdes (US$1) each; at least 50 per-
cent of the total number of shares must be
open for subscription. The law also requires
cooperatives to educate their members in an
understanding of their obligations.
The Haitian Credit Institute was established
to make loans to agricultural and industrial
enterprises. Most of its loans have been to
industry; those that have been made for agri-
cultural purposes have been applied to the pur-
chase of equipment or land. The Institute is
also the Government's receiving agent for re-
claiming or leasing land in the public domain.
It is financed largely by a special tax on coffee
exports and a prorated contribution from sisal

Staff Retirement Systems
In domestic industry, as distinguished from
foreign companies operating in Haiti, there are
no formalized plans for retirement. In such
industry, the common practice is paternalistic;
when a worker reaches retirement age, the
proprietor decides whether or not to grant a
pension, and in what amount. The foreign

companies, for the most part, have retirement
systems for supervisory personnel only. The
oil companies, however, have established staff
retirement systems which include the rank and
file of their workers.

Employee Services
The Labor Code requires the employer to
furnish a number of specific employee services.
It provides that canteens or lunchrooms shall
be installed in or near all enterprises, account
being taken of the number of workers, the
demand for canteens, the absence of other eat-
ing facilities, and other special circumstances.
Whenever suitable, it is permitted to establish
communal canteens for two or more enter-
The law further states that restrooms. shall
be provided, particularly for workers engaged
in "especially laborious work" and for women.
The employer shall furnish at least one toilet
for every 25 males and one for every 15 fe-
males. Sanitary facilities shall be separated
from workplaces and maintained in good order.
For employees whose work requires contact
with toxic substances, oil, grease, or dust, the
employer shall provide at least one hot and
cold water shower for every six employees
working the same shifts. These facilities shall
be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.
In spite of legal requirements, however, spe-
cial employee services, such as lunchrooms,
lavatories, information bulletins, cloakrooms,
transportation, vehicle parks, medical dispen-
saries, and free physical examinations, are
usually nonexistent in both small and large
enterprises, domestic and foreign. A few of
the larger foreign firms provide facilities which
sometimes include medical dispensaries at
which not only employees, but neighboring
residents also are treated. There is a wide
variety of practice with regard to the provision
of transportation from place of residence to
work site. Such transportation is provided by
some domestic Haitian enterprises.

Chapter X. Employment Practices

Preemployment Inquiries
In the prevailing small community atmos-
phere, outstanding individuals are known, and
for important positions informal inquiry gen-
erally suffices. For other positions also, verifi-
cation of previous experience and other quali-
fications is usually made, if at all, in a personal,
unsystematized way. There are practically no
special facilities or capabilities, governmental
or other, for investigating the probable loyalty
and honesty of applicants for employment.
Private industry does not often resort for this
purpose to the police or other government
agencies, since employers are apprehensive
that they will be required to give primary con-
sideration to the political allegiance of pro-
spective employees.

In hiring personnel, the employer can be
represented by an agent, by a subcontractor,
or by administrative or managerial personnel
in the plant. The law provides that labor may
be contracted for either individually or collec-
tively; verbally or in written instruments cov-
ering work by the day, by the piece, or other-
wise; and for an indefinite or a stated period.
Married women are required to have the con-
sent of their husbands to enter into a labor
contract of any kind, and minors must have
parental consent.
The Placement Service of the Department of
Labor is the only organized employment ex-
change in Haiti, but its operations are very
limited. (See section on Population and Labor
Methods of recruitment vary. In Port-au-
Prince, most concerns hire directly without the
intervention of third parties. Most large agri-
cultural enterprises hire their own personnel,
with seasonal workers recruited from the sur-
rounding areas. One sugar producer recruits
seasonal cutters through paid contractors who
act as paymasters. Some labor unions take
part in hiring activities, although no evidence
has been found of limiting hiring to union

Subcontracting work formerly resulted in
abuses against which the worker had no re-
course, but since 1952 the primary employer
has been held responsible for the activities of
the subcontractor. Thus, the labor contract is
applicable to relations between a worker and a
Work permits are required for minors under
16 years of age and for foreign labor. These
permits are issued by the General Directorate
of Labor and must contain information on the
proposed employment-type of job, name of
employer, entry on duty. In addition, the work
permit for foreign labor must indicate when
employment will terminate. Failure of an
employer to comply with the limitations on
hiring foreign labor is punishable by a fine of
1,000 gourdes (US$200) to 3,000 gourdes
The Haitian Government permits the hiring
of foreign labor in certain types of work (see
section on Labor Legislation); but the Haitian
worker himself resents foreign employees who
often gain higher wages than he does, and the
employer who brings in foreign help risks the
hazard of this resentment. Even technicians
attached to foreign aid missions are sometimes
There is competition for jobs in Haiti, not
for employees. One Haitian observer, Latortue,
says, "In a country such as ours, workers
literally assail the doors of industry without
finding employment... "

Disciplinary Actions
The employer is required to establish and en-
force work rules when 10 or more permanent
workers are employed. These work rules must
be approved by the Department of Labor's In-
spection Service before they are applied. They
must be written in French, either posted in
obvious places or provided to each worker in
booklet form.
The work rules must follow the regulations
called for by the Labor Code. They must also
contain the disciplinary actions proposed by
management for infringement of any rules
peculiar to the establishment. The principal

limitations on disciplinary actions are that a
fine cannot be deducted from wages or salary,
and that suspension applied as a penalty can-
not exceed 8 working days.
A labor contract may be terminated by the
employer without incurring liability if the
worker commits assault or uses physical vio-
lence against the employer or any of his fellow
workers; uses threatening or abusive language
or provokes a breakdown in procedures of the
work; destroys or damages through negligence
or by intent the employer's property; is guilty
of absenteeism for 3 consecutive days; refuses,
after being warned, to observe recommended
methods for preventing accidents or to obey the
work rules of the establishment; is sentenced
to imprisonment for more than a month; com-
mits a serious breach of his obligations under
the contract; or claims skills he does not

Notice Periods and Separations
Advance notice of either release or resigna-
tion is required by the Labor Code within the
following limits: 15 days' notice for 3 to 12
months of service; 1 month's notice for 1 to
3 years of service; 2 months' notice for 3 to 10
years of service; and 3 months' notice after
10 years of service. The period of notice is not
to be treated as annual leave. The worker who
is separated is entitled to compensation in lieu
of any annual leave accumulated during the
current year.
These provisions are binding on subcontrac-
tors as well as on the primary employer, and
are applicable to any permanent employee ex-
cept domestic labor.
A worker may ask for termination of his
work contract if the employer threatens or
assaults him; if the worker is exposed to a
contagious disease; if the employer does not
provide the health and safety measures re-
quired; or if any provisions of the worker's
contract are not met. If necessary, because of
lack of materials or other conditions beyond the
employer's control, suspension of the labor con-
tract is permitted, to be followed by a 24-hour
notice of resumption of work to which the

worker must respond. He is given 8 days to
report again for work; after that his job may
be filled by another.
For the conditions under which the employer
may dismiss a worker without incurring lia-
bility, see the section on Disciplinary Actions.
The Department of Labor and Welfare rules
on questions of termination or cancellation.

Grievances and Complaints
Despite the legally established grievance-
settlement procedures described in the section
on Industrial Relations, friction in employee-
management relations is usually dealt with on
an ad hoc, personal basis, especially in the small-
scale enterprises which constitute much of
Haitian industry. Because of extensive unem-
ployment, workers are not prone to risk their
jobs by lodging complaints.
More formal procedures of a simple type are
sometimes required by provisions of collective
labor contracts. The Minister of Labor and
Social Welfare has taken an increasing interest
in ensuring that collective bargaining contracts
contain such provisions. Whether a given con-
flict is subject to compulsory arbitration is
sometimes determined personally on an ad hoc
rather than a strictly legal basis by the Min-
ister of Labor and Social Welfare.

Records and Reports
Every enterprise is required to register with
the Labor Department if it proposes to hire
even one person. The nature and conditions
of work must be specified in this registration.
Employers must keep employee registers which
show identity card numbers, skill or profes-
sional training, dates of hiring, and subsequent
actions, such as layoffs, suspensions, and paid
leave, as well as. the nature of the work, wages,
hours, and other conditions. With respect to
paid leave, employers' records must show, for
each employee, the date of entry on duty, the
amount of paid annual leave due, the dates of
any leave taken, and the pay received during
periods of leave. False entry on the register
makes the employer liable to a fine of 500

gourdes (US$100) to 1,000 gourdes (US$200).
Failure to keep the register is punishable by a
..? 1 Ar(t ---- /TTC'alf~r Jt\ ~A fl\ ^-.^ -


kept when the health and maternity insurance
systems are put into effect.

ne of 100 gourdes (US$20) to 500 gourde
s Contracts, health cards, and employee regis-
US$100). ters must be kept available for Government
The law specifies the series of records to be inspection.

The Division of Foreign Labor Conditions has also issued-

Labor Law and Practice in Honduras (September 1961)-

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