Haiti: Education International condemns arbitrary transfers of education trade union leaders

published 17 August 2020 updated 13 October 2023

Education International has expressed deep concern at the sudden decision by Haitian authorities to arbitrarily transfer a number of union leaders and activists, including several from the education sector.

Education International was notified by member organisations in Haiti; the Konfederasyon Nasyonal Anseyan Dayiti(CNEH), the Union Nationale des Normaliens d'Haïti(UNNOH) and the Union Nationale des Normaliens/Normaliennes et Éducateurs/Éducatrices d’Haïti(UNNOEH), that the teaching union leaders Magalie Georges and Georges Franck had received transfer notices to areas located far from their places of residence, and that Josué Merilien had had his salary suspended.

Education International: Punitive measures

In a letter dated 17 August and addressed to the Haitian Minister of Education, Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, the General Secretary of Education International, David Edwards, pointed out that “these punitive measures have been taken while education unions are mobilising in favor of a resumption of school activities that guarantees that the rights of teachers, students and parents are protected.”

He continued: “Such transfers and salary suspensions will prevent trade unionists from carrying out their legitimate activities, which are particularly necessary to protect workers in the context of a global health crisis that is severely impacting the living conditions of Haiti’s citizens, as is the case elsewhere in the world.”

Consequently, Education International is calling on the Haitian government to immediately and unconditionally reinstate the educational employees to their current roles, if they so desire, and to initiate a constructive dialogue with the teacher unions so as to find a favourable outcome of the ongoing social conflict.

EI reiterated its previous requests, calling on the Haitian authorities to guarantee:

  • the rule of law, peace and democracy
  • a respect for international labour standards, particularly those related to freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • the funding of high-quality public education, which has been seriously undermined by corruption and privatisation
  • decent working conditions for teachers and other education employees

Broad opposition and response to transfers

In addition to the action undertaken by Education International and its member unions, an inter-union mobilisation took place across the country for three days, from August 17 to 19.

An administrative appeal will also be launched to contest the transfers.

Education International will continue to support its members in Haiti to enable them to fully exercise their role of advocating for education staff with the authorities.