President Lenin Moreno praised Wednesday’s decision by the United Workers Front (FUT) to cancel an October 30 protest march in Quito and welcomed the labor union to the negotiating table.
“I am pleased with the decision by FUT and look forward to reaching solutions with them through dialog,” he said. “I want to express my deep gratitude to the leaders of the movement for their sensitivity and generosity of spirit in reaching this decision. We have endured some difficult times in recent weeks and I look forward to a process in which we come to decisions through discussion rather than confrontation in the streets.”
Wednesday morning, FUT President Messiah Tatamuez announced that the union made the decision to cancel the protests in favor of negotiating with the government. Representatives of the United Nations and the Catholic church have agreed to mediate the talks. The UN and church are also mediating talks between the government and Ecuador’s indigenous community.
Although talks with FUT have not begun, the government is already meeting with other labor organizations about their objections to proposals Moreno sent to the National Assembly last week. On Tuesday, representatives of the government met with leadership of the Unitary Central of Workers (CUT), the General Union of Workers of Ecuador (UGTE), the Confederation of Workers of Ecuador (CTE) and the National Federation of Public and Private Workers of Ecuador (FTPP).
UGTE President José Villavicencio, who is also an officer with FUT, says there is uniform rejection of Moreno’s proposals among the various labor movements. “We all oppose the changes, including new contract rules and the reduction of pay for government workers,” he said. “These talks are critically important and if we do not receive major concessions from the government we will not hesitate to take our message to the streets.”
Meanwhile, Conaie President Jaime Vargas says talks between the indigenous community and government are temporarily stalled over the attorney general’s investigation of statements he made over the weekend regarding the formation of an indigenous army. “We will not talk until this action is dropped. It is a serious distraction and an insult to indigenous peoples,” Vargas said.
On Tuesday, Vargas clarified his comment about the army saying it was a force intended only for the protection of indigenous communities and was not a challenge to Ecuador national armed forces.
To date, the government and Conaie have met twice.