Last week in Latin American labor struggles
July 04, 2012
Tens of thousands of workers converged on the Argentinean capital Buenos Aires June 27 to protest government labor policies. The rally took place in the midst of a one-day national strike by the CGT, Argentina’s largest labor federation. The main demands of the protest were the raising of the floor of a recently legislated income tax and expansion of coverage for the universal child allowance.
In Puerto Rico
Workers at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport struck for 24 hours June 26 to protest the governor’s plan to privatize its operations. The workers are members of the Brotherhood of Port Authority Employees.
The plans, promoted by right-wing governor Luis Fortuño, have been criticized for the secrecy under which they have been negotiated and for the lack of information on how privatization will affect the workforce. The Port Authority claims that privatization is necessary and that no employees will lose their jobs.
Union president Astrid Rosario Ortiz told reporters at the protest that the deterioration of services at the airport was part of a deliberate plan to provide a pretext for the privatization scheme. Ortiz also denounced the Port Authority for irregularities in hiring of management and awarding of contracts.
In Costa Rica
Members of Costa Rica’s High School Teachers’ Association (APSE) joined several hundred employees of the country’s Social Security System, the CCSS or Caja, in a march and protest in downtown San José June 26. The protesters gathered outside the National Children’s Hospital and marched to the Legislative Assembly.
Caja employees called on the government to pay off debts to the agency. The teachers denounced President Laura Chinchilla’s “Plan B” fiscal reform proposals and called for an end to corruption, which has been a salient feature of Chinchilla’s administration. Plan B, according to Inside Costa Rica, “introduced a series of tax changes that included adding more than 90 food items to the taxable list.”
In El Salvador
Employees at border crossing customs houses in El Salvador began a strike on June 26. The strike was called by the Union of Workers of the Ministry of Finance (Sitramha) to demand the payment of a $1,000 bonus (per employee) as stipulated in its contract signed last December, as well as the payments for overtime so far for the first half of the year.
After three days of the strike, the government responded to complaints from the export/import business sector. “At the customs border posts of El Poy, El Amatillo, The Chinamas and The Hachadura, staff of the National Civil Police (PNC) was deployed during the morning to streamline administrative processes and prevent transit through them being further affected,” La Prensa Gráfica reported. “Yesterday at 6:00 p.m., the border at Amatillo had free passage, after the PNC intervened in the process of reviewing documents and goods.”
As of June 30, the strike still held at other customs houses.