Thursday, 15 July 2010

Peru: 100 thousand construction workers rally to demand wage increases and improved working conditions

By Yasser Gomez

14/07/10 - The Federation of Construction Workers of Peru (FTCCP) decided to take the demands of workers against the employers to the streets in Lima where 20 000 workers mobilised and 80 000 in other cities around the country.

The workers held pre-rally concentrations in many areas from where they marched to the Plaza Dos de Mayo in downtown Lima, where they all converged. Then they marched to the Congress. Mario Huaman, secretary general of the FTCCP and CGTP (1) espoused a platform of struggle in front of thousands of workers.

"This is a march in repudiation of the APRA government, because of the 4000 workers who were sacked only for deciding to unionize. We reject the systematic anti-labor policies," he said.

Also, Huaman said that whenever mobilisations are held the government criminalizes protests and as a result of the repression so far there has been 70 deaths among workers, peasants, indigenous, environmentalists and popular leaders.

The secretary general of the FTCCP denounced the violence in the sector and the parallel unionism promoted by the mafia and criminal gangs in a so-called new Federation, sponsored by the APRA government. He also demanded higher wages in proportion to the rapid growth in the construction sector the country and the productivity of workers, which is among the highest in Latin America.

Mario Huaman called for better working conditions. “In 2008 we presented to Congress a draft law for health and safety. But we have not had a reply. Since then, 131 workers have died in construction accidents at work. There is no law to protect the lives of workers.” Before this Huaman was emphatic in expressing demands of the working class. "An employer who does not apply the safety measures must be jailed, because you can not play with the lives of workers."

In addition, Huaman demanded improved social security and lowering the record of contributions to fifteen years, so that workers have access to a retirement pension. "Because only 8% of construction workers have access to retirement." Finally, workers proclaimed their support for the demand of the peoples of southern Peru, against the Camisea gas exports in order to avoid increasing the price of fuel and the cost of living.

(1) CGTP – General Confederation of Peruvian Workers

Yásser Gómez is a journalist and editor de Mariátegui. La revista de las ideas.

Translated by Kiraz Janicke for Peru en Movimiento