Haiti: Seeds of international solidarity bear fruit

published 27 April 2022 updated 13 October 2023

Education International is pleased to report that it has received letters from member organisations in Haiti informing it that the repression against union leaders has been lifted, following a strong show of solidarity from education unions around the world.

Lifting of punitive government measures against education trade unionists

In a letter to the General Secretary of Education International, David Edwards, the coordinator of the Union nationale des normaliens/normaliennes et éducateurs/éducatrices d’Haïti (UNNOEH), Kensone Delice, informed him that the leader of his union, Georges Wilbert Franck, who was the victim of union repression at the beginning of September 2019, has been reassigned to his post.

On behalf of the UNNOEH Executive Board, Delice expressed the gratitude of the Haitian trade union organisation “to the Executive Board of Education International for its support and accompanying measures of various kinds, as well as its various appeals for international solidarity inviting affiliates from all over the world to support the struggle of teachers in Haiti”.

He went on to say that “through this unwavering solidarity, Education International has set a fine example that reaffirms the idea that the struggle for public education knows no borders and must be a universal and global struggle for a more socially just humanity.”

The General Secretary of the Confédération nationale des éducatrices et éducateurs d'Haïti (CNEH), Rose Thérèse Magalie Georges, also sent a message on behalf of her organisation to the General Secretary of Education International, announcing that she had been “reinstated in her post as school principal”.

Another victim of union repression, she explained that she had been transferred to the “Croix des Bouquets”, a district controlled by armed gangs since 12 November 2019.

She notes that “the fight we waged together forced the Ministry of Education to reverse the decision taken by Minister Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, whose aim was the disappearance of trade union organisations. The support of Education International's affiliates proved to Haiti's political leaders that the global trade union movement is standing up to dictatorship. Please pass on our thanks to each of the affiliates. Thank you for persisting with this continual demonstration of solidarity for the welfare of humanity.”

Call for urgent action for teacher trade unionists

Informed in August 2020 of the harassment of Haitian trade union leaders, Education International responded with an Urgent Action Appeal, asking members, among other things, to send letters of protest to the Haitian authorities.

The appeal denounced the fact that “these punitive measures have been taken while education unions are mobilising in favour of a resumption of school activities that guarantees that the rights of teachers, students and parents are protected. Such transfers and salary suspensions will prevent unionists from carrying out their legitimate activities, which are particularly necessary to protect workers in the context of the global health crisis that is severely impacting the living conditions of Haiti's citizens, as is the case elsewhere in the world.”

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

In October 2020, Education International and its member organisations around the world had reiterated their support and indicated that they were monitoring “developments in the situation of the teacher trade unionists who are fighting for free, quality public education for all in Haiti. In particular, they are putting pressure on the government to respect the human and trade union rights of educators.”

Education International thanks the more than 50 member organisations in over 30 countries who have sent protest letters to the Haitian authorities in support of their colleagues.