Ecuador: Government represses strike

13 October 2019 14:54

Increasingly violent demonstrations in Quito. Source: HispanTV.

Trade unionists, Indigenous people, students, peasants, teachers and public workers are protesting in Quito and other cities across Ecuador against austerity measures announced by President Lenin Moreno. 700 have been detained, at least four killed and dozens injured.

The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), expressed its outrage at the recent repressive measures taken by the Ecuadoran government against its people who have taken to the streets in cities across the country since 3 October. The daily mobilizations are in protest of the efforts of President Moreno’s government to implement economic, fiscal and structural adjustment measures, which will have dramatic consequences to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in the country.

Measures included elimination of 100 percent fuel subsidies, an annual reduction of the public budget by US$100 million and cuts in social security budgets of US$50 million, and cuts in benefits for public sector workers. Economic measures and labour reforms were announced after an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that provides $4.2 billion to reduce its deficit.

The government reacted to the demonstrations by declaring a state of emergency. They called out riot police and tanks were deployed in the Capitol. At least four people have been killed and dozens injured. More than 700 people are currently in jail and dozens have been injured. President Moreno moved the government away from Quito to Guayaquil to avoid the protests.

One of BWI affiliates in Ecuador, the Workers Confederation of Public Sector of Ecuador (CTSPE), which groups workers from State services, electricity sector, transportation, industrial maintenance and teaching, cited, as dangerous, the Governmental Exception State Decree. They judge it to be a mechanism for repression and violence, as it is demonstrated through brutal repression against Ecuadorans who have been on the streets since 3 October.

President Moreno has systematically opposed public sector trade unions while in office. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.

Representatives of FEDESOMEC and CTC, BWI’s two other affiliates, which represent heavy machinery operators and construction workers, are also calling for the end to the repression and violence.

Ecuadorans are waiting for constructive dialogue and a meeting between government and representatives of a coalition of organizations leading the protests to immediately resolve the situation.

The BWI joins the rest of the international trade union movement calling on the Ecuadorian Government to dismantle repressive measures, undergo full consultations with the people of Ecuador on economic policies and reforms and engage in dialogue with all parties. These policies severely impact workers and their families and, in particular, the vulnerable sectors of the population.

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson stated: "Democracy is about more that elections. Being elected does not give anybody the right to be a dictator. President Moreno clearly prefers violence and repression to reason and discussion. BWI calls on the President to immediately stop the attacks on his own people and, rather, make peace with them".

People at Quito’s streets.