Bukele Administration Attacks STISSS Health Care Workers' Union

Action Alert

The Bukele Administration is attempting an illegal takeover of the Salvadoran Social Security Institute Workers' Union (STISSS), the country's largest union.

On September 4, Minister of Labor Rolando Castro, notified the union that the government would no longer recognize the union's Executive Board, whom union members had democratically elected in December 2018. Unilaterally, the Ministry of Labor transferred the union leaders' credential to a minority group within the union, a move that not only violates the union's statues and Salvadoran labor law but also International Labor Organization conventions.

The union and social movement allies who have joined protests this month warn that the Administration's attacks on the unions an opening volley in a siege on the Social Security Institute, the public, employer-funded health care system in El Salvador, and the public sector at large.

The militant STISSS has been one of the historic roadblocks to the privatization of the public health care system in El Salvador. During 2001-2003, the STISSS helped lead the powerful strikes and 100,000-strong marches that defeated attempts by President Francisco Flores of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) to privatize the ISSS.

According to the STISSS, this month's attacks against them are politically motivated. "The government presided over by Nayib Bukele aspires to return to the dark ages of labor relations given that the labor movement represents an obstacle to privatization. In the past, every time that a public service was going to be privatized, the first thing that was done was debilitate the union, and that is what worries us, for what other intention could there be in intervening in our union?"

Read the STISSS' official denouncement in Spanish (translation to English here)

The legitimate STISSS leadership is refusing to give in. However, the pressures against them are mounting. The union reports that on September 16, at around midnight, an armed group carrying machetes arrived at their union hall on the grounds of General Hospital to intimidate them.

The Bukele Administration's illegal and unilateral removal of the elected union leadership poses a threat to all unions - and all workers - in El Salvador. Join CISPES in taking action today:

1) Help us get to 1000 signatures on this petition that can be hand-delivered in El Salvador

2) If you're on Twitter, send a message to the Minister of Labor @RolandoCastroSV, @TrabajoSV and the President @PresidenciaSV: Hands off the unions! Share our alert on Facebook

3) If you are part of a union or another organization that can write a letter to the Minister of Labor denouncing this attack, please write to [email protected] for instructions.

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