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Uruguay: paper union seeks to negotiate the rehiring of 270 workers

24 August, 2016Ninety percent of the workers of the National Paper Factory in Colonia, Uruguay, have been laid off due to the factory’s economic difficulties. FOPCU, an IndustriALL affiliate, is negotiating their rehiring with the company and the ministry of labour.

The situation of the National Paper Factory (Fanapel) in Uruguay is critical. 

Recently the company, which was founded in 1898, laid off 270 workers.  The company’s justification is that they were forced to stop production due to difficulties in selling to their main partners in Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

Since August 9th, when the company’s decision was announced, the Paper and Cellulose Worker’s Union (CUOPYC), represented by the Federation of Paper and Cardboard Workers of Uruguay (FOPCU), which is in turn affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union, has been seeking through dialogue and negotiations to the get those workers rehired.

At the latest meeting between the company, the ministry of labour and social security and the union, the ministry proposed that the workers should work 20 days a month and that the remaining days should be covered by unemployment benefits.  In that way they would be on partial unemployment insurance, depending on the demand for production required by the company.

Although at first the union agreed to the proposal, the company decided that the workers should begin work on Monday the 22nd, thereby upsetting the situation.

“The federation has had this problem for the last two weeks.  We were working on partial unemployment insurance when the company then decided that they had to start working on Monday the 22nd, which left the workers without unemployment insurance since they had not completed the legal period required to become entitled to it. 

“Management has no plans to remedy the situation. In any case, the union is prepared to seek alternatives, and the ministry of labour has also given assurances”, said FOPCU president Julio Burgueño.

Burgueño explained that the situation is causing uncertainty because the company has yet to make any clear proposals. Nevertheless, they will continue to negotiate until a solution is found which benefits all the workers.

Jorge Almeida, IndustriALL regional secretary, said:

“IndustriALL has been closely following events at Fanapel, and has been supporting the workers and FOPCU, while at the same time urging the company through dialogue to find a just solution to the dispute.”