Uruguayan workers strike against Government’s pension reform proposal approved by Parliament
Uruguayan workers took to the streets on Tuesday as part of a general strike called by the PIT-CNT labor federation to express their rejection of the government’s proposed pension reform, which they see as “socially inefficient” and “against the people.” The Uruguayan Chamber of Representatives approved the legislation on Tuesday evening after a “marathon” session.
The day was marked by the vote in the Senate on the bill promoted by President Luis Lacalle Pou’s administration. The little movement on the streets of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, with schools, banks, and public offices closed, was noteworthy. Workers from areas such as transportation, health, education, public offices, and banking joined the 24-hour strike, with flags and banners, gathering around the Legislative Palace, where the PIT-CNT called for a massive No to the pension reform demonstration.
During the rally, representatives of social organizations such as the Federation of University Students and the National Organization of Pensioners and Retirees gave speeches, culminating in a speech by labor federation spokesperson Sergio Sommaruga, who emphasized the reasons for rejecting the bill. ”This reform is not for the people but against the people (…), it is neither fair nor democratic, nor is it in any way solidary, but furthermore, it is socially inefficient, he emphasized. Sommaruga questioned whether it was reasonable to support a reform that forces the vast majority to work their backs off until they are 65 years old” in order to retire.
Desde los despachos del Frente Amplio en el Palacio Legislativo tomaron estas imágenes del acto contra la reforma jubilatoria y desde el oficialismo les critican POR QUÉ?? ellos no la hicieron en 15 años. pic.twitter.com/0wHfU5h32G
— leo sarro press (@leosarro) April 25, 2023
Is it okay for the country to give workers more years of work and exploitation after a lifetime of work? Does this make our society fairer? No, of course not, said Sommaruga, who also indicated that the government’s proposal will exacerbate the problem of youth unemployment by slowing down labor replacement. Sommaruga also criticized Pension Fund Administrators (AFAPs), which he said already take $1.2 billion a year and will benefit even more by managing future pension funds under the new law. He stressed that the government based its initiative on listening to a privileged minority.
They forget that there are conditions in this country to think about another pension reform, but of course, that doesn’t punish those at the bottom, said Sommaruga, who also pointed out that raising the retirement age from 60 to a maximum of 65 years takes away workers’ time to enjoy life. This afternoon, lawmakers began voting on the bill’s provisions, which received initial approval but underwent modifications due to differences within the governing coalition.
The reform, created with the approval of a Social Security Expert Committee, was described as necessary and solidary by Lacalle Pou, who has emphasized its approval as one of the top priorities of his presidency. However, it is not supported by either the leftist opposition coalition Frente Amplio, which governed from 2005 to 2020, or the unions. It was also a long-debated issue within the government coalition of center-right parties that caused tensions and divisions.