URGENT CAFTA ACTION: Union Busting to Push Through CAFTA in El Salvador
- URGENT CAFTA ACTION: Union Busting to Push Through CAFTA in El Salvador
Date: 8/9/2002 3:35:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time
CISPES Emergency Action Alert:
SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT FIRES THIRTEEN WORKERS IN MOVE TO BUST UNIONS AND CRUSH RESISTANCE TO US/CENTRAL AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (CAFTA)
Unions Fight Back - Urgent Pressure Needed
August 8, 2002
On August 1, government agencies fired two union activists from the electricity workers' union STSEL and eleven from the health care workers' union STISSS as part of an ongoing attempt to destroy these two militant unions. Now that Bush has been awarded "fast track" authority to negotiate CAFTA, the Salvadoran right seeks to eliminate the greatest obstacle to a free trade agreement: public sector unions.
The STSEL and the STISSS unions have led the charge against the privatization of public services, and against CAFTA and the Plan Puebla-Panama infrastructure megaproject that would turn the region into a giant free trade zone. Repression has been heavy: more than 30 STSEL activists and 200 STISSS activists have been fired, and STISSS Secretary-General Ricardo Monge has received death threats against himself and his family. Two weeks ago, owners of the richest corporations in El Salvador described public sector unions as "one of the greatest obstacles to privatization" and ordered that the government privatize the electricity generation utility CEL and the public health care system ISSS. With the recent privatization of security at some ISSS hospitals, the government has begun the process of militarizing the work centers. Mauricio Ramos, director of the ISSS, told union representatives that privatization "is coming, and you had better negotiate with the private sector."
Both unions decided to resist. STSEL workers adopted the slogan, "Not One More Firing": they approached the CEL to negotiate, but director Guillermo Sol Bang refused to meet with them. The union has launched a series of protest activities, to culminate in a march on August 15; if the CEL administration still refuses to negotiate, they are prepared to call a national electricity strike. STISSS workers are also resisting privatization and demanding the reinstatement of their coworkers. Together with other health care unions, they have begun a massive education and organizing campaign among ISSS users in the urban and rural sectors. The union has hung banners and signs at health centers across the country, and will soon take to the streets in mass protest.
Salvadoran Workers Call On Us For International Solidarity!
Recognizing that union busting attacks on the STSEL and the STISSS are part of a global neoliberal strategy to eliminate the strongest obstacles to CAFTA, both unions have called for international solidarity. "CAFTA negotiations mean that [US activists] have a distinct opportunity to affect policy in El Salvador," explains STSEL Secretary-General Alirio Romero. "We must work together with our allies in the US to stop privatization, and to defeat CAFTA. It is the same struggle."
1. Write to Guillermo Sol Bang, director of the CEL (email rmorenof@...; fax 011.503.211.6232), and to Mauricio Ramos, director of the ISSS (email comunicaciones.isss@..., fax 011.503.260.3703), and demand that they:
… Rehire all fired union activists still struggling for reinstatement!
… Stop the illegal firings of union workers!
… Stop the privatization and concession of public services in El Salvador!
2. Call Andrea Rodriguez, the El Salvador Desk Officer at the US State Department, at (202) 647-3505 or send faxes to (202) 647-2597 (sample letter attached), and demand that she:
… Not open official CAFTA negotiations, because of the Salvadoran government's constant violations of labor rights!
… Pressure the Salvadoran government to reinstate all fired workers at the CEL and the ISSS!
… Pressure the Salvadoran government to stop the illegal firings of public-sector workers in El Salvador!
… Pressure the Salvadoran government to stop the privatization and concession of public services in El Salvador!
3. Contribute to the emergency fund! CISPES has established an emergency fund to support the STSEL and STISSS union members in this critical time. Checks made out to "CISPES Education Fund," with "Emergency Fund" marked in the memo line, can be sent to: CISPES Emergency Fund, 130 W. 29th Street, 9th Fl New York, NY 10001. 100% of all funds raised will go directly to support the organizing of the STSEL and STISSS unions.
CISPES - Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
130 W. 29th Street, 9th floor
New York, NY 10001