National Work Stoppage Planned for Friday in Bolivia

The Central Obrera Boliviana (COB, Bolivian Labor Unions) is calling for a national work stoppage and marches tomorrow, Friday the 18th of February, to reject the rising prices of food and to demand a salary in accordance with the current social crisis.

Pedro Montes, head of the COB, indicated the protest will also highlight discontent with the lack of advances made on the new Labor Code and the lack of economic reactivation policies. Workers believe a salary of Bs. 8300 would keep pace with the cost of living.

However, the national teaching sector is more precise and is demanding a salary increase of 20%.

According to Federico Pinaya, leader of the national teachers? union, the Government should increase salaries immediately, and not in May as it foresees doing. ?Friday we will suspend classes to get the government?s attention,? warned Pinaya.

The COB Secretary of Employment, Nicanor Baltasar, was categorical when he indicated that workers want to meet with President Evo Morales and that a meeting with ministers would not impede the work stoppage.

The COB assures that urban teachers, vendors and factory workers, and the neighborhood committees of El Alto will join the mobilizations planned for tomorrow.

The government invited workers to meet with Labor Minister, FĂ©lix Rojas, and Minister of the Presidency, Oscar Coca, to clarify several of the COB?s demands and attempt to avoid this extreme measure.

Rojas indicated that the salary increase proposed will be higher than the inflation rate and that the COB's remaining demands would be dealt with today in an cordial environment in which three additional Ministers will also participate.

Within this tense context, the Federation of Private Businesspeople of Santa Cruz (FEPSC) asked the government to generate a climate of legal security with regards to land and access to credit, in order to guarantee food production in the country.

Gabriel Dabdoub, president of the FEPSC, proposed the government and private sectors work together on mechanisms to strengthen and provide assurance to these sectors.

Source: Los Tiempos - Date: 17-Feb-2011 - Read this Article in Spanish.

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