Municipal cleaners in Peru protest against mass dismissals

Over 250 workers, who have been working for more than 11 years, lost their jobs after the municipal government of Miraflores district arbitrarily decided to hire a new company

March 05, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Public cleanliness workers' protest in Miraflores, Peru
Municipal workers outside the Miraflores City Hall on March 1. (Photo: SITOBUR)

On March 4, tens of municipal cleaners of the Miraflores district of Lima, protested outside the headquarters of the Organismo Supervisor de las Contrataciones del Estado [Supervisory Body of State Contracting], condemning the municipal government’s arbitrary decision to hire another company, and denouncing the irregularities in the contract between the government and the new company, Petramas SAC. The decision will leave over 250 workers unemployed. Earlier, on March 1, a similar demonstration was held in front of the city hall of the Miraflores.

The protesting workers are from the Innova Ambiental SA company (formerly Relima), 80% of whom are women and have been working for more than 11 years. According to a statement released by the District Municipality of Miraflores, the government’s contract with the Innova Ambiental SA expired on March 4.

The government declared that there has been a shortage of cleanliness and cleaning services in the district for almost 240 days. It invited tenders on February 25, and hired a new cleaning company the next day on a temporary basis for 8 months. As such, apart from Petramas SAC, only Buena Pro could present its proposal.

The Public Cleanliness Workers and Laborers Union of Lima (SITOBUR) condemned this action of the government and said that it was a violation of the labor rights of the workers. They argued that the contract was given by the mayor, Luis Molina, as a favor to some campaign contributor, and called it an act of corruption.

“They should have carried out a transparent bidding, inviting several companies, and chosen a winner. What they have done is something very obscure because, in our opinion, everything has been redirected,” said Raul Oviedo, the general secretary of the union.

The union also rejected the government’s argument that there is shortage of cleanliness as the district is the cleanest in Lima. Oviedo said that the government had decided to outsource the cleaning services, which is a main work of the municipality, at the end of 2018. He also reported that Molina never agreed to talk with them despite their constant attempts.

Oviedo indicated that the workers will continue to protest until their labor rights are respected. “We will continue to seek dialogue with the municipality of Miraflores. If we are not heard, we will go to the Congress of the Republic, the Comptroller’s office, that has already begun an investigation into the issue. We will hold demonstrations and protests to defend the rights of workers,” he said.