The federal government says it is determined to avoid laying off full-time employees but acknowledges that many consulting and contract positions have already been eliminated.
The cuts are necessary, says Finance Minister Fausto Herrera, due to budget cuts from 2015 to 2016 due primarily to a reduction in oil revenue. “We plan to maintain our work force during these difficult times but we cannot keep many of the contract positions that have been added over the years,” he said.
Herrera said that job vacancies will not be filled as they come open. “We have a hiring freeze at this point that will remain in effect until further notice,” he said.
In a July report, Herrera said there were more than 45,000 contract positions on the government payroll. In recent comments he said that about 32,000 of these have been eliminated.
According to the finance ministry, there were 467,724 full-time federal public servants as of June 30, a reduction of 5,881 from the same time in 2014.
Some recently terminated federal employees claim that the government is, in fact, eliminating full-time positions. Foreign trade engineer Alejandro Espinosa, who said he is full-time, claimed he was recently told his position will end in January. He was told that because of budget cuts, there was no money to fund his position, he said.
Remigio Hurtado, president of the Confederation of Public Employees backs up Espinosa’s claim and said that some full-time positions are being cut. “We do not have exact numbers, and they are not big numbers, but there are some positions being eliminated, contrary to what the minister says.”
“As of now, it is very difficult to see the full picture,” Hurtado said. “We have not concluded the current budget year and don’t know what will happen at the beginning of 2016.”
Herrera said last week that keeping employees is a government priority due to job reductions in the private sector. “We are entering a period of difficult economic conditions and we feel a responsibility to keep our people employed.”
He added that there appears to be an organized campaign by government opponents to “spread lies” about the employment situation. “There is a political element that is suggesting that Ecuador is in economic collapse and this is not true. Times will be hard but we will endure them and protect the people.”