2010 July Journal #10
Sweat Shops at 200g a day ($5US)
July 28, 2010 (delayed)
Job Offer In Haiti: Must be a highly motivated woman to assemble electronic components, able to read and write, and pass a logic/math test. You will arrive at 6:45am check in with fingerprint ID. You will work 8 hours and clock out for lunch. You will be handed a food coupon that is good on only the day of issue (value is 8g or four cents US). You may use the coupon toward your purchase of lunch at the company lunch counter. However the cheapest meal there is 23g, without any meat of course…that would be extra.
The cheapest form of will take you at least one hour to get to work, and two hours going home. That will cost you 5g to 7g depending on the price of gas (each way).
The net result is that you will be at work 9 hours (with no talking) and spend three hours in transportation. Since you are a woman, after being gone those 12 hours, you will shop each day (no electricity for refrigeration) and cook breakfast and dinner for your family over an open charcoal stove. You will do all the family laundry, kill, pluck and dress the chicken, haul water and purify it, while making sure your children are freshly scrubbed twice a day.
For this work you will bring home 1000g salary each week, less the 50g for the taptap (an overcrowded bed of an open truck), then deduct 75g for lunch. This means you will bring home 875g a week, or a little less than $90US a month.
Since you will also have to buy food, work clothes, laundry soap and charcoal as well as the $100US for your four room unfurnished house…you must also sell small candies on the street after dark and take in the neighbor’s wash.
Then, since you will still don’t have enough money for utilities, you send your oldest son out to climb the telephone pole and cut into the high voltage wire.
Since you also don’t have money for medicine, school uniforms and tuition, when your baby gets sick, you consider selling your oldest daughter to the wealthier landlord to be a servant, but, lucky for you, since she is only eight years old, restavek owners are required by law to send her to school. When they move away, you hope that they will not sell her to some unsavory to use as a sex slave, or worse yet…to some foreigner for body parts.
But, say, that's the cost of cheap "US" electronics, right?
p.s. This journal is based on real interviews and my tour of a Port au Prince electronics factory that sells components to over 100 U.S electronics companies .
(We will be returning to Haiti )