Forty factories occupied in Uruguayan metalworkers' strike


The National Metalworkers' Union says it is not only fighting for a pay rise and a better quality-of-life for workers. It also wants to promote development of the economy and the workforce.

URUGUAY: A national metalworkers' strike began on 10 October in support of the union's demand for a collective agreement to be signed. Metalworkers have occupied 40 factories throughout the country and will continue their occupation until their demands are met.

The National Metalworkers' Union (UNTMRA), an IMF affiliate, said its demands include: "an inflation plus 3.5% pay rise every six months, reduction of the working week from 48 to 44 hours without loss of pay, an end to employer misuse of attendance bonuses to undermine the union, a new job classification structure (the current classification dates from 1968) and two hours pay for union meetings; this will allow us to improve our workplace organisation, including in unorganised factories".

UNTMRA explained that the union had called an indefinite strike because the collective agreement expired on 30 June 2010. The union has been negotiating for months but has not yet reached agreement with employers in the sector. A decree awarded a 1.5% pay rise in January 2011 but the union says a decree is not the same as a collective agreement. "We are not only fighting for a pay rise and a better quality-of-life for workers. We also want to promote development of the economy and the workforce", said a union spokesman.

He added that the employers' organisation had refused to dialogue. "It has showed a clear lack of interest in meeting our pay demands and also a lack of initiative with regard to industrial development. However, it has increased repression of the workforce, temporarily placing some workers on unemployment pay, threatening to dismiss others and generally acting in a provocative way in order to change the focus of the dispute away from our list of demands".

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