Thousands of people demonstrated this Wednesday in downtown Montevideo, in a day of unemployment generatesl summoned by the Uruguayan workers’ union to demand employment and better wages, among other points of a vast platform that targets the government of center-right Luis Lacalle Pou.
“We are going to have to ask to enlarge Avenida Libertador, because it was too small for us. Here is the town “Marcelo Abdala, the secretary general of the PIT-CNT labor union, said from a podium to the thousands who filled several blocks of that central artery that leads to the Legislative Palace, the Uruguayan Parliament house.
In a long list of claims, the PIT-CNT demand employment and better wages, in the midst of a fall in the purchasing power of Uruguayans.
The unions also reject the increase in public rates and proclaims the sovereignty of the Port of Montevideo, after the government extended for 50 years the concession to a Belgian company to operate in the container terminal.
They also call repeal 135 of the 476 articles of the Urgent Consideration Law (LUC), a government roadmap highly questioned by the opposition Frente Amplio (FA, left) and on which a referendum is being promoted.
Asked about the measure, President Lacalle Pou said that it is “a clearly political strike “, in particular because it stands “against the LUC”.
“It is a political strike, against the government“, he insisted this Wednesday at a press conference during a tour of the Expo Prado agro-industrial exhibition.
The president of the PIT-CNT, Fernando Pereira, said that the president “is right” and added: “It is a political strike, as were all the strikes in the history of the trade union movement “.
However, Pereira assured that it is not a partisan strike. “Today workers from the entire community stop (…) We are united in defending work. “
By mid-afternoon, the central had not yet provided percentages of compliance with the general strike.
Sectors such as health and education suspended most of their activities, while the transport companies joined but did not stop to facilitate the mobility of the protesters. The commercial movement in Montevideo was practically the usual one.
It is the third general strike of the PIT-CNT, which brings together almost all the Uruguayan workers’ unions, since Lacalle Pou took office on March 1, 2020, who came to power from the hand of a five-party coalition led by the center-right National Party (PN).
Lack of work
The workers’ central aims against the government, adducing a fall in real wages, increase in poverty and loss of employment.
“Unemployment is not ‘just because’. 50,000 jobs were lost, there is a significant number of people in unemployment insurance, wages fell 18 wages in a year, that is, people work the same but earn 18 days less work, “he said.
On the other hand, Lacalle Pou affirmed that when he took office there were “more than 47,000 Uruguayans in unemployment insurance.” “The pandemic took him to a hundred and long. Today we are with 38,000 Uruguayans in unemployment insurance, less than when we assume, pandemic through, “he argued.
Unemployment in Uruguay stood at 9.4% in June, according to the latest report from the state National Institute of Statistics (INE). The figure is similar to June 2019 (9.7%), prior to the covid-19 pandemic.
However, according to INE data, the Average Salary Index rose 5.83% in the 12 months closed in July, a period in which inflation accumulated an increase of 7.3%, so that workers tThey had a loss of purchasing power of 1.47 points percentage in that period.
But 56% of Uruguayans approve the management of Lacalle Pou, according to a survey by the consulting firm Cifra released last week.
Although the figure implies a decrease of 10 points in the last year, the percentage remains high, in particular due to the successful management of the health pandemic.