Thousands march on International Labor Day, demand that government revise labor laws

May 2, 2018

The Unified Workers Union begins the Labor Day march at San Blas Plaza.

Photos by Bartley D’Alfonso

Several thousand Cuenca workers marched through city streets in Monday’s May Day labor parade, many carrying signs demanding changes to Ecuador’s labor code and to the country’s social security system.

The parade was led by the area’s largest labor unions including the Unified Workers Front (FUT) and two teacher’s unions, and culminated in rallies at Parque Calderon. Among the other unions and political movements participating in the parade were artisans, electrical workers, taxi and bus drivers, the Alfarista movement and the Communist party of Ecuador.

The Union of Informal Workers provided entertainment.

At the rallies, union leaders insisted that Ecuador’s labor laws are outdated and need major revisions.

Education union leader José Ochoa said that retired teachers have been “badly mistreated for years” by the government and demanded reforms in pension amounts and payment schedules. “We teach the future leaders of Ecuador and we were treated by the former government as enemies,” he said. “We are still waiting for reforms promised by the new government.”

The parade also featured satirical acts.

Ochoa said that teachers and education workers will hold a sit-in protest on Wednesday at Parque Calderon.

In addition to demanding reforms, FUT leader Édison Déleg called for national unity to combat the violence on Ecuador’s border with Colombia. “We have lost some of our brothers in this deadly battle and we should never forget,” he said.

Azuay Province Governor Xavier Enderica agreed that changes are needed in labor laws and said he is working with members of the National Assembly to develop a new labor code. “We support the country’s worker and are working to make changes for a more equitable code.”

Mounted police were standing by in case of trouble but there waan’t any.

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