On May 13, Uruguay’s trade union center, the Inter-Union Plenary of Workers – National Convention of Workers (PIT-CNT), called for a 24-hour national strike on June 17 under the banner of “against hunger and inequality, for work and wages, in defense of life”. The PIT-CNT reported that the strike has been called to demand that the far-right government of President Luis Lacalle Pou take measures to combat the economic and social crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The union also informed members in all economic sectors will participate except healthcare, especially those working in COVID-19 health centers and vaccination centers.
Paro general «contra el hambre y la desigualdad, por trabajo y salario»
— PIT CNT (@PITCNT1) May 13, 2021
The president of the PIT-CNT, Fernando Pereira, explained to La Diaria that the step had been taken due to “the lack of comprehensive, more universal social policies that cover all those affected by the pandemic, to avoid what we are witnessing, which is that people are starving in many parts of the country. The trade union movement cannot ignore the fact.”
Pereira pointed out that about 60,000 Uruguayans lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic and some 100,000 Uruguayans were pushed below the poverty line, of which 35,000 were children. He stated that the union recognizes that measures have been taken by the national government, such as the ‘solidarity wages’ for the vulnerable population, but stressed that “they do not cover everyone.” He highlighted that “300,000 Uruguayans who have no income” and that the measure only covers “15,000 people in a universe of 300,000 people without income, only 5% of the people.”
The trade union leader also stressed that “Uruguay is suffering an economic crisis that is hitting the weakest sectors of society. While Uruguay’s bank deposits abroad increased by 4,000 million dollars.” He criticized that “those sectors (with large fortunes) are not being touched to attribute to the covid fund or a set of public policies that seek to abate the hardships of Uruguayans.”
Similarly, the secretary general of the PIT-CNT, Marcelo Abdala, in conversation with TV Ciudad, said that “the workers are facing a significant increase in unemployment, and in the informal sector there are multiple problems.” He denounced that “the government never considered their proposal of providing an emergency basic income,” and regretted that “there are people who are hungry.”
The PIT-CNT also stated that the general strike will also show solidarity with 15 professors from the San José department, who were dismissed from their jobs in February, for participating in the campaign to collect signatures in favor of a referendum on the Urgent Consideration Law (LUC), a neoliberal law promulgated by the national government.