Guatemala: Unions raise "serious concerns" over govt’s handling of COVID-19

27 March 2020 08:20

The National Trade Union of Construction and Services of Guatemala (SINCS-G), a BWI affiliate, raised this week serious concerns over the measures implemented by President Alejandro Giammattei to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement sent on March by the National Social and Workers Trade Union Confederation (COSINSO) to several National Deputies, the union highlighted the government’s lack of plan to address COVID-related labour issues. 

It was reported that  the government has enforced a 30-day preventive curfew from 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. The unions, however, reported that construction sites and other workplaces are still operating, which they said is putting the health, safety and lives of workers at risk. 

The BWI affiliates said that the preventive curfew has resulted in the arrest of an increasing number of citizens and the total ban on protests, including workers’ strikes, which now carries the penalty of up to 6 years in prison. 

“The lives of workers cannot be protected if many workplaces, particularly construction projects remain operational, and union members cannot exercise their labour rights, including the right to strike to enforce labor and hygiene measures,” said SINCS-G, which is also affiliated to COSINSO.  

As of 25 March, Guatemala has 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,000 people in quarantine. The Guatemalan government has since approved an emergency fund of Q 230 million (around USD 29,000,000) to respond to the crisis.