Haitian Construction Workers in the Dominican Republic: An Exploratory Study on Indicators of Forced Labor

Construction work is the second most important labor sector for Haitian migrant men in the Dominican Republic, following agriculture. Though it is relatively better paid than agricultural work, and therefore a more desirable option for many young Haitian men, construction work is also known for having dangerous and exploitative conditions, including pay far below minimum wage, longer working hours, and no days off.

Based on exploratory qualitative data on the living and working conditions of Haitian construction workers in the Dominican Republic, this study sought to determine whether indicators of forced labor are present in the sector. The information presented herein is expected to promote awareness about the issues Haitian workers face in the construction industry in the Dominican Republic and to make information available to agencies working in this area.

The project was commissioned and funded by the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking (OCFT), part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL’s) Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB). As such, it aims to inform current and future technical assistance efforts of the USDOL/OCFT, while contributing to the international discourse on forced labor.

The specific research objectives of the study are to:

  1. Understand the pathways into construction work, including the details of recruitment
  2. Discover the nature of construction work Haitians perform with a focus on the employee-employer relationship
  3. Capture information about the lives of workers outside of work, including their living conditions, demographic characteristics, and debt situations
  4. Understand how the 2010 earthquake in Haiti may have affected Haitian migration for construction work in the Dominican Republic
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