In December an agreement was reached between management and the union at the Grupo M textile factory in the Ouanaminthe free trade zone. Construction of the factory had been supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) (see Update 41) which approved a $20 million loan to Grupo M in October 2003. Wage issues were resolved, as were issues relating to union recognition, labour rights, and working conditions.
Charles Arthur of NGO Haiti Support Group was negative about the role of the IFC throughout the dispute: “The IFC should have used its influence to pressure Grupo M to conclude a collective bargaining agreement with the Sokowa union in early 2004, but it did not, and representatives of organised workers had to fight tooth and nail for nearly two years to win this agreement. The IFC’s remedial action plan and specific covenants in the loan agreement regarding freedom of association have been shown to be a complete sham.”