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Uruguay: trade union centre announces 24-hour general strike

15 July, 2015Uruguayan trade union centre PIT-CNT has announced an action plan including a 24-hour general strike on 6 August, and also demanding changes to pay guidelines, respect for collective bargaining and a bigger education budget.

The executive of PIT-CNT, the Uruguayan trade union centre, has unanimously approved a 24-hour general strike on 6 August under the slogan “Struggle Pays”. The PIT-CNT represents IndustriALL Global Union affiliates like Unión Nacional de Trabajadores del Metal y Ramas Afines (UNTMRA).

The PIT-CNT rejected guidelines proposed by the government during talks at the Wages Councils dealing with private sector pay. In Uruguay, the traditional method for setting pay rates is to convene a Wages Council. These are tripartite agencies that set minimum wages and benefits for the various sectors of the economy.

The government says it will ask the various sectors of the economy to use their annual growth figures to "self-classify" as either "dynamic", “intermediate” or “in difficulties” and set annual pay rises accordingly.

It also suggested six-monthly adjustments; an annual increase in the minimum wage, with a target of  $13,430 by 2018 and supplementary productivity payments.

The PIT-CNT rejects these proposals and has called a 24-hour general strike in support of:

Larger increases in the minimum wage and a target figure of $15,000 by 2018.
Special treatment for workers earning under $15,000.
The introduction of annual wage indexation.
A real rise in pay levels, in line with the country’s economic growth.
A bigger education budget.

The government is preparing the national budget, which involves calculating expenditure and investment during its five-year term. The PIT-CNT wants more spent on education in order to meet the demand for teachers and administration workers.

In a press release published on the union website, PIT-CNT president, Fernando Pereira, says the only way to stop the strike is “if there is a radical change to the guidelines in accordance with our demands, which are restrained and moderate and appropriate for the country’s situation.”

He also announced a plan of action in the period leading up to the strike, in which the PIT-CNT will hold meetings between 20 and 24 July to explain to workers the reasons for the strike and build support among the general public.

IndustriALL Global Union supports the PIT CNT’s right to use strike action and collective bargaining in support of its demand for a pay deal that benefits all workers.