Today’s labor protests focus on failures of the Social Security system, privatization of services

Mar 23, 2022 | 6 comments

Claiming that the government is underfunding social benefits, reducing the rights of workers, and selling off public assets, the unions of the United Workers Front plan protests today in major cities.

The leadership of the United Workers Front announced final plans yesterday for the March 23 protests.

“The workers of Ecuador are being abused and the unemployed have been forgotten while our heritage is being sold off to the highest bidder,” says Edwin Bedoya, president of the Pichincha FUT. “We are mobilizing Wednesday to say that enough is enough. It is time for the interests of the people to come first.”

The largest protest will be in Quito, outside the Ecuador Institute of Social Security (IESS) with other rallies planned for Guayaquil, Cuenca and other cities. In addition to FUT unions, the Confederation of Indigenous Nations (Conaie), two teachers’ unions and members of transportation cooperatives say they will join the protests.

Among protest targets are the privatization of medication services in the IESS health system, the sale of the government-owned Pacific Bank and President Guillermo Lasso’s Law of Investments currently being debated in the National Assembly. “We are massing to proclaim that social benefits and institutions of the state are not for sale,” he says. “This is our heritage and should be the heritage of our children.”

He added that the government is staging a “systematic raid” on the social protections of Ecuadorians. “Look at the problems retirees face receiving their rightful pensions and the deteriorating service provided by Social Security and other government agencies.”

Bedoya says today’s protests are just the beginning of mobilizations against the government. “Because of the pandemic, we were limited in 2020 and 2021 but the health emergency is ending. This year, the country will see a series of mass uprisings that will force the government and the National Assembly to listen to the voices of the people.”

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