Bolivia: CSTB congress focuses on active, participatory and militant trade unionism

24 October 2017 10:36


The Trade Union Confederation of Construction Workers of Bolivia, CSTCB, affiliated to BWI held its XXIV National Ordinary Congress in September 2017. Besides renewing its programme and strategic lines, the Executive Board was renewed and its National Executive Secretary Valerio Ayaviri, a construction worker, was unanimously re-elected. This National Congress coincided with the celebration of CSTCB's 64th founding anniversary. CSTB is also part of the Bolivian Workers' Union Centre, COB.

The founding ceremony, held in Potosí last June, was attended by the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, also trade union leader of the “cocaleros” sector, Evo Morales. On that occasion, it has celebrated the application of the National Safety Regulation on Construction, which is a result of CSTCB's struggles in the past after signing and ratifying ILO 167 Convention on safety in construction. The XXIVth National Ordinary congress was held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

In July and August, the CSTCB, through its affiliate at the Department of Cochabamba, the Federation of Construction Workers of Cochabamba FTCC, together with the support of BWI, developed a campaign for Decent Work in sports infrastructure in the frame of the 2018 South American Games that will be organised in this city. The campaign publicized the new security regulations in construction among workers in these projects and explained the importance of unionizing. This led to the affiliation of two new unions to FTCC and contributed to the strengthening of CSTCB.

In September, discussion and decision-making spaces were reactivated to legislate manual handling of loads and weights. The CSTCB participated in successive high-level meetings with representatives of the National Executive, the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, Bolivian Chamber of Construction (CABOCO), cement plants and the Ministry of Industry.

The aim of these meetings consists in coordinating existing positions and establishing new legislation that allows the packaging of the product in no more than 25 kg cement bags by cement plants. For Valerio Ayaviri: “…to reduce weight of cement bags would also reduce skeletal muscle injuries of workers...”

Currently, cement bags in Bolivia have reached 50 kg each, and employers and workers handle up to two bags simultaneously, which can generate irreversible injuries and affect the life of workers and even cause public health problems due such injuries disabled workers.

Many challenges accompany the new management of the CSTCB for the next two years, according to its national Executive Secretary: "... weight reduction in the cement bags, sectoral collective bargaining, decent work in at the projects developed by companies of chinese capital, gender and youth issues and improving communications are topics placed at the 2018 and 2019 operating annually plans."