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Uruguayan unions march for rights and decent pay

4 November, 2015With banners, placards and T-shirts bearing the movement’s slogans, IndustriALL’s Uruguayan affiliates (UNTMRA, UOC and FOPCU) and other trade unions (SUNCA, SIMA, FOEMYA, SUA -AGUJA, SUTMA and SUTCRA) marched in defence of their labour rights, including decent pay, education and health and safety.

The march was proposed by the national council of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Uruguay, and taken up by other unions organising industrial workers in the country. “It was a great success” said Eduardo Burgos of the National Metalworkers’ Union (UNTMRA).

Hundreds of workers wearing the symbols of their unions marched to Independence Square for a rally outside the offices of the Uruguayan Chamber of Industries (CIU). The aim of the demonstration was to demand workers’ rights at a moment when Wage Councils are discussing pay levels.

“We are not asking for a lot, but the companies say they are in no position to give us anything. The march is the workers’ way of making the companies sit up and give us what we deserve. We will take the steps necessary to achieve our aims”, said Fernanda Calvete, representing the UNTMRA, moments before the rally began.

The Wage Councils for the private sector are currently meeting to set minimum wages, job categories and other benefits. They consider the arguments made by employers and unions in the various sectors of the economy in defence of their interests.

Washington Cayaffa, a leader of the Paper and Cardboard Workers’ Federation (FOPCU) said the sector needs to retain jobs, reach a pay deal that adequately rewards the work done and deal with social issues such as childcare and gender.

Antonio Ferreira, from the Tanners’ Union (UOC) said: “We need a real increase in wages,  a pay rise above the CPI, which we have not had for the last seven years".

IndustriALL was represented at the event by Marino Vani, IndustriALL Assistant Regional Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), who marched alongside local union leaders to proclaim their rights and needs:

“The unity of action of Uruguay’s industrial unions was impressive. The women, the young and older workers were united on the march and gave an example to LAC and the rest of the world. IndustriALL is proud to see class unity in action.  Congratulations to the workers. We support this struggle and all initiatives that seek to build a fairer and more equitable world. Our affiliates and other trade unions deserve the respect and solidarity of all industrial workers in the world”.