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The main avenue in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, was flooded this morning by thousands of people participating in the Meeting in Montevideo as part of the Continental Day for Democracy and against Neoliberalism. Over 3000 people coming from all countries of the Americas marched together with Uruguayan workers and activists amid a strike organized by the Uruguayan central union PIT-CNT to support the mobilization as part of this meeting, which will come to an end on Saturday 18.
The Continental Day for Democracy and against Neoliberalism is an articulation process that was launched in Cuba at the end of 2015 and since then it has been kept active in the search for alternatives against neoliberalism and in defense of democracy in the Continent. Unions, peasant, indigenous, feminist, environmentalist and anti-imperialist organizations of the continent are the basis of this movement.
In a context of setbacks in terms of labor rights in Brazil and Argentina, PIT-CNT decided to support the beginning of the Meeting with a partial strike, with national demands as key. One of them is the defense of the collective bargaining process, since the International Labor Organization (ILO) is hearing a complaint filed by Uruguayan businesspeople who demand the right to work by workers who do not endorse strikes amid the occupation of a workplace. Collective bargaining, which gathers business representatives, workers and the government, was established by law in Uruguay in 1943. Wage Councils were interrupted in 1968, before the civic-military dictatorship that hit the country from 1973 to 1985; the negotiations were resumed in 1985, but not for long, since they were deactivated again in 1991. In 2005, with the coming of Frente Amplio to office, Wage Councils were resumed, thus allowing an increase of the net salaries of workers, more labor rights and the growth of unionization.
Also, PIT-CNT is advocating for a better pension law, especially for those workers who in 1996 were forced to join a Pension Savings Fund Administration (AFAP) as part of a reform that aimed to destroy the historical retirement system designed by the state-owned Banco de Previsión Social (BPS). Twenty years after this reform, and as the working class announced back then, those who are about to retire now have found out that their income will be far inferior than what they would have obtained if they hadn´t been forced to join the mixed system. The Uruguayan Parliament is now discussing a bill to allow the people affected to retire according to BPS calculations. The strike is a way to pressure the government to pass this bill as soon as possible.
PIT-CNT also demands the passing of a labor bill for people with disabilities that establishes a minimum percentage of people with disabilities hired in the private sphere.
The march reached Montevideo´s Obelisco, where Francisca Rodríguez, of the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women of Chile (Anamuri) and Marcelo Abdala, Secretary General of PIT-CNT addressed the public. After this, the Meeting will continue at Velódromo Municipal.
Imagen: Real World Radio
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